I have found myself making a number of trips over the past week or so along the stretch of State Highway 1 immediately north of Auckland. Both times I’ve gone north the traffic has been pretty bad, but in rather unexpected ways which have provided me with some quite useful insights. I’ll run through these briefly before getting on to what this could mean in terms of some sensible improvements to this road.

  1. Firstly, the concept that we make massive transport investments based on the state of the road for a few days a year is completely silly. It’d be like forcing shopping malls to build carparks big enough for the Boxing Day sales… oh wait, we do that.
  2. Both times going north the first area of delay has been between where the motorway cuts down to two lanes just before the Johnston Hill tunnels, and just north of Puhoi. This is not surprising due to New Zealand drivers being unable to merge. Interestingly though the traffic seemed to improve by the time we got to Schedewys Hill and north of that, until….
  3. The next area of delay was around Warkworth, once again caused by the merge before the Warkworth bridge (why on earth wasn’t that duplicated as part of the widening of SH1 through Warkworth? The mess of the Hill Street intersection creates a lot of problems here too, particularly for southbound traffic on SH1.
  4. In addition there have been odd areas with nasty traffic. Like between Warkworth and Matakana on one day in late December. Changes to SH1 won’t do anything to solve these problems except get more vehicles to them quicker.

Using “Operation Lifesaver” as a guide for our thinking, the main elements of that scheme would solve a lot of the issues that I’ve experienced. In particular a bypass of Warkworth would solve congestion problems caused by Warkworth and separate out traffic heading north of Warkworth from traffic heading to the eastern beaches and from traffic heading to Warkworth itself. Something like what’s shown below – with the red being the proposed Puhoi-Wellsford route, the blue being a connection between the existing road and the Warkworth bypass and green being a connection to the road heading to Matakana and the other eastern beaches.

warkworth-bypassThe section of the route shown in red south of the blue link wouldn’t be built.

The other area where some improvement seem like they’d be good value is immediately north of the Johnston Hill tunnels, with the existing road being widened to two lanes northbound for another kilometre or so to ease the merging movement until after all the lanes coming together have sorted themselves out. So perhaps a bit past the Puhoi River bridge – once again something that probably wouldn’t cost very much in comparison to the whole scheme.

There’s also an interesting debate to be had around Wellsford I think. Although having SH1 going right through the town causes delays it does seem as though Wellsford is very reliant on SH1’s through traffic for its economic survival.

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  1. The NZTA know full well that building a bypass of Warkworth would instantly kill 90% of the problem and therefore completely remove the need for a full blown motorway.

    The thing that most annoys me about this road is the double standards that it gets treated with. Where are the list of detailed alternatives like that are demanded for the CRL. I have a few of the scoping documents and it appears that the upgrade of the existing route option assumed that they would upgrade it to a state needed in 2051 vs a brand new alignment and there doesn’t seem to be any mention of the ability to stage improvements when they are actually needed.

    1. I was brought up in Northland and own property there. Interesting how most of the commentary is narrowly focused. Northland is a beautiful and under-developed area. It could help stove growth instead of having the worst unemployment and social conditions.
      Transport links to Auckland are critical here. The Dome Valley is a national disgrace of a road. Unbelievably dangerous.
      Look at the current debate here in Australia on developing the north with the conservative side proposing a massive infrastructure spend. Northland can boom with a little vision.

  2. You make yourself look a bit stupid. If you care to travel via Warkworth or Wellsford at any time of the year you will realise they are busy and dangerous bottlenecks considering they are part of SH1. Yes, all they really need is a 4 of 5 Km long bypass road on each township. Each project would require removal of houses, break up some lovely “lifestyle” blocks, and really upset some property developers, so probably not politically possible (check, no we are not part of China, yet!)

    1. Hmm … apart from being rude, you’re also wrong. Compulsory acquisition of private property in New Zealand is covered by the Public Works Act and already happens for almost every major infrastructure project. If NZTA needed a few properties or land to complete a project, then they can and would take them.

  3. My grandfather lives out at Omaha beach so I make the trip up from Auckland many times a year. The thing that I really don’t understand is why the intersection with Hill St at the end of Warkworth has been allowed to stay in its current state. It is the most confusing intersection I know of. It causes traffic back logs into Warkworth (itself home to more crazy intersection design at Mil Ln and Nevile St) because its so hard to turn right out of Warkworth and head towards Matakana.
    Cars coming from Matakana Give Way to cars coming from three completely separate directions before heading out to stop at the traffic lights. Often too many cars head out blocking cars leaving Warkworth.

    If NZTA puts off doing some form of Warkworth bypass they must turn there attention to that intersection before the confusion leads to a serious accident on a holiday weekend.

  4. I would continue a new road off Perry road and head further west to the rail corridor and then follow the rail line to link with SH16. The section of SH16, from Kaipara Flats to Wellsford would be much easier to upgrade to a decent standard than through / over Dome Valley. Then push SH16 past Wellsford on the western side to link back to the current SH1 therefore bypassing Warkworth and Wellsford and creating a road that would present fewer problems to making safer. A bit more road building (although only a divided 2 lane road and not motorway standard) but a good long term solution I believe.

    1. Oh, and they really need to do something with the Wayby Valley intersection with SH1. A friend of mine was seriously injured there last week and is still in hospital. A northbound car turned in front of her. A roundabout would slow vehicle speeds and make the intersection much safer.

  5. The worst traffic snarls are caused by Wellsford, not at Johnsons Hill or Warkworth. There was a queue almost at a standstill for a full 7km north of Wellsford for southbound traffic this afternoon. And all because SH1 goes through the main street in Wellsford. There were no other delays on the whole route, including at Warkworth. The priority should be a bypass of Wellsford, and then of Warkworth — not the holiday highway.

    1. Hence my idea above. I used to live up north and have driven that road hundreds of times. Wellsford is a problem north and southbound while Warkworth’s biggest issue is usually only northbound.

    2. Disagree in terms of safety, every year so far I have seen accidents on the Warkworth intersection, some serious, we should put safety over congestion, therefore I believe the priority should be Warkworth then Wellsford.

      1. Warkworth is a 60km/h zone so therefore not as lethal as the 80 or 100km/h stretches. If you want to improve safety those are the places to start. The road through Warkworth, with driveways and a local school, should be 50 km/h max.

        1. It’s not the road that is unsafe, it is the intersection which is unsafe. The intersection has a high crash rate, and it is obvious why when you look at it. NZTA and the council have had numerous attempts at fixing the intersection with no luck, the road layout makes it close to impossible to design it safely while still allowing access and movements on all roads. Although the main stretches have higher average speeds due to the speed limit, they are designed to handle the movements, the crash rates are lower. I will need to look at the statistics to compare the fatality rate of each section though, as a higher percentage of accidents on the higher speed stretches are more likely to be fatal than at the intersection, the overall fatality account may not be. I’m not sure.

          Intersections can be more lethal than high speed stretches of roads, but I do agree the speed limit should be 50km/h though Warkworth.

          1. Dominant flow wont allow for a round-a-bout unless you have a traffic light round-a-bout, which nz authorities are obviously not keen on. Also it was claimed not enough room with the current alignment, have to buy land or something.

  6. This year the annual holiday jams seemed to move back to 29th, instead of the more usual 27th Dec. No idea why that was, but Peter M is quite correct. The bottleneck at the end of the Northern Gateway at the Puhoi junction did clear after that and was clear all the way up Schedwys hill and along Windy Ridge. It was undoubtedly due to driver’s inability to merge correctly and some ignorant and selfish drivers trying to cut down the inside at the junction, meaning that 3 lanes needed to merge to 1.
    I live 10kms south of Warkworth and needed to go into town at the height of the traffic on 29th and 30th. On each occasion, a journey that takes 8 -10 mins took me about 15, so it took me 5 – 7 mins longer. My house is being demolished to make way for this road. I think I can live with spending 15mins longer on the road per year to keep my home.

    1. We got lucky this year due to the timing of Christmas I feel. Some people left for holiday the weekend before Christmas, others on Christmas Eve (Monday) and others on boxing day or even after work on the Friday. It mostly spread the flows out. Well, in my opinion anyway :-).

      1. I think more people simply stayed home this year. Riding around the city in other years its always been nice and quiet, however this year it’s stayed relatively busy.

  7. Whilst I don’t disagree with the thought that here would be more efficient ways of improving this highway from a safety perspective, I also think that something needs to be done. I drive this road weekly upto Whangarei and whilst the traffic can be bad, the only major issue is when you get stuck behind a logging truck and the bottlenecks in warkworth and wellsford.

    The reality is that building new highways is necessary, as it not only helps with safety improvements, but also more efficient travel for the majority of people. I would never catch a train to Hamilton or Whangarei, but do catch a train around Auckland. The roading improvements in the past 10 years save me around 30 minutes on my trips north and south, as well as make them safer.

    I think the arguements needs to become more constructive, so that others who read this blog, which is one of the top 10 in the country, and aren’t so well disposed to rail transport take the points on board. Making comments that we build carpark for the boxing day sales just devalues your arguement as anyone who goes to a mall knows it is not true, so therefore will wonder what else is written that is not true.

    The reality is that NZ needs to get away from petty minded short term thinking and stop making false economies by building something for the now rather than the future. The harbour bridge with just two lanes each way and britomart with only two tracks are classic examples. In both cases if they had been future proofed at the time of construction there wouldn’t have been the need to spend far more money to fix that it would have cost had it been done properly in the first place. In the case of britomart it would be almost impossible to put 4 tracks in the entrance now but could have been done simply at the start.

    I really would like to see the arguments on here take a far more constructive tone that they did at the end of 2012, as I for one am getting a little tired of reading that the government is not doing its bit as if it is something new. The reality is no central government has done its bit for Auckland for a very long time.

    1. I agree that something needs to be done but there is a middle ground between nothing and a 4 lane motorway to Wellsford. Unfortunately the current transport minister does not want to hear any alternatives. Phil Twyford has shown interest in alternatives. That shows me that he is listening.

    2. “I for one am getting a little tired of reading that the government is not doing its bit as if it is something new. The reality is no central government has done its bit for Auckland for a very long time.”

      I for one, am also tired of reading, hearing and seeing the current government is “part of the problem set, and not part of the solution set”.

      However, all I, and I am sure many others on this blog ask is that if the current government won’t act to help solve the problems and do it constructively and in a timely fashion, that it steps back, gets out of the way and gives Auckland the tools to solve the problems itself as the Auckland Councils have proposed more than once to it that they do (regional tolling or fuel taxes).

      I disagree over your comment “that no central government has done its bit for Auckland for a very long time”.

      In fact the previous (Labour) government did help do its bit for Auckland in many ways:
      It bought the Auckland rail tracks back off Toll, signed off on the purchase of (admittedly a lower number of) EMUs and organised a national standard for PT transport cards, instituted a regional fuel tax for Auckland to pay for Auckland PT and roading improvements.
      It didn’t raid the transport fund regularly, hike ACC levies for no valid reason and it actually balanced the books for 8 years and kept the government component of the national debt well under control for the eventual rainy day.

      Oh and it also didn’t institute without electoral mandate a massive roading program.

      The current government hasn’t been just “hands off” as you suggest, they have been actively meddling, first Joyce, then Brownlee – firstly with the EMU purchase – delayed for 1-2 years for “reconsideration”, then the fuel tax got the heave ho – without any replacement option, and they then meddled in the HOP card situation by forcing Snapper back to be allowed back into the National system even after they had been ruled out as a contender by NZTA.

      1. A few clarifications to your comment.
        The previous labour government approved electrification and was going to pay for it with a 5c per litre regional fuel tax but left it up to Auckland to work out the EMUs. From memory ARTA decided on 70 two car EMUs with each car 20m long and it was to be paid for by a 5c per litre regional fuel tax imposed by the ARC. This was to have been complete with the first trains rolling at around 2013. When the current government came in they ‘reassessed’ the project and eventually decided to fund the infrastructure side of the project through an increase in fuel taxes for the entire country and pay for the EMU’s through a loan. The EMU order was changed to 38 three car EMUs with each car being 24m long so total train length was almost identical. The EMU order was then extended to 57 and the government kicked in an extra $90m and half of the $550m loan is being paid for by the NZTA. Auckland doesn’t have a direct funding source for its share like it did with the fuel tax but I think that arguably the current deal is better for the city than that of the previous government.

        For integrated ticketing, the plan had been for Auckland to get the Thales system but when Snapper complained the government got the NZTA to investigate and see if the right decision was made. After considering it the NZTA decided it would be best that they use the system as the basis for a national standard as they didn’t want to have every single region approaching them to help fund the same thing over and over again. Yes they stuffed things up by forcing AT to let Snapper in but we wouldn’t be getting a back end system designed to be rolled out nationally.

        The previous government was also responsible for quite a few motorway projects in the city, although nothing as expensive as Waterview and the other projects. We have the various stages of the CMJ and Grafton Gully upgrades, SH20 Extension both to Maioro St and the link in with Manukau, the duplication of the Manukau harbour crossing, SH18 motorway. They also had VPT ready to go along with the Newmarket bridge replacement.

        I’m not trying to say I think the current government are wonderful or that the previous one was bad as I think they each have their faults and have done good and bad things.

        1. Matt, thanks for the details.

          Even so, the degree of meddling and rule by proclamation/fiat by the current government is still excessive and breathtaking.

          Yes the previous government did stuff and did institute many motorway projects but as you say while some may be dubious (SH20 link with SH1 being an obvious stuff up) they are mostly logical enhancements to the CMJ and related motorway network to try and maximise the current system, and are basically peanuts in comparison to projected costs of the 7 RoNS over the next 10 years.

          And its worse especially since these RoNS are ongoing regalrdless of the economy, the current GFC and the two major earthquakes in Christchurch with subsequent rebuilds and infrastructure repairs – to such a degree that the RoNS collectively are now in danger of putting a serious crimp in the economic recovery of the country now and for years to come.

          Even Fed Farmers, EMA and Treasury is sounding these alarms to the Government to no avail.

          The current government may have been apparently “generous” with the EMUs, but thats only at the cost of 2 years of delays and a very serious amount of stuffing about – and we’re seeing that downside now with falling patronage and years of seemingly endless summer shutdowns of the network for electrification, track reconfiguration and signalling improvements ongoing.

          And to cap the EMU saga off the government seems to expect us to show extreme gratitude as a result and is now in effect saying to us about the CRL (even though CCFAS shows CRL is “the last best hope”):

          “well, you’ve got the trains you wanted, but no – you can’t have the tunnel you need to complete the train set – we can’t afford it, and no you can’t go get an after school job to pay for it yourself either until I say otherwise”.

          And lets not re-litigate Snapper/HOP and just hope that its on target for 2013 maybe.

          But taken together If that lot is not showing a high degree of (parental) meddling what is?

          And the government now claims VPT as a RoNS even though, as you say, it was already underway under Labour.
          As was the just completed Newmarket Viaduct replacement project (not exactly a snip either at $230m as I recall so its up there in terms of cost) – although its not yet been claimed as part of the RoNS, I expect that claim is coming before too long.

          Labour isn’t off the hook here, but the current government is way more a part of the PT “problem” than it is a PT “solution” currently.

          1. We do have the previous government to thank for project DART, without which there would be no electrification now, so we wouldn’t even be up to haggling for the CRL. Or at least it would be much harder to do as it would involve the costs of these two foundation projects as well.

            In terms of the revival of Auckland passenger rail that was the critical project: http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/2011/07/27/busting-an-annoying-transport-myth/

            But having said that it is pretty clear that the next [Labour/Green] government will be much less tentative than the Clarke government was, times have moved on and the investment in Transit is clearly a much less radical idea now than it was even six years ago. Auckland is talking with one voice for the first time, which is a great help; the old divide and rule policy is harder to use on us now. Also the current gov have politicised the transport sector through their adoption of an aggressive almost panicked programme of extreme lopsidedness and ministerial whim.

            The last point is interesting; a real example of unintended consequences. I’m sure they don’t really get the opposition to the RoNS, but then they don’t seem to have noticed it isn’t 1965 anymore either….

          2. This is possibly not the ideal place to note this, but Simon Wilson’s musings in the editorial in the Jan ’13 Metro are interesting, while watching Skyfall, he started thinking about Gerry Brownlee. Like Skyfall, Wilson says, Brownlee is untrue to his own internal reality.

            He points out that Brownlee knows the outcome of the City Centre Access report because he approved the brief and his team collaborated on steering the study and that the report’s findings tick all the government’s boxes with respect to creating economic growth, innovative industries and efficient infrastructure.

            Wilson poses several reasons why Brownlee opposes the CRL, most of which have been canvassed on this blog, interesting reasons include: it’s a Jafa conspiracy and would tend to make central govt less relevant in Auckland; it’s a “Labour” plan not invented here, it’s a Len Brown plan and Gerry doesn’t like competition for the limelight (to wit Bob Parker); and finally, he’s stupid and not smart enough to see what’s staring him in the face.

            Wilson says that Len needs to find a way to make Gerry more than someone who signs the cheque. All up, it’s a piece worth reading.

    3. Ejtma, isn’t the purpose of this post and of Operation Lifesaver in total to be constructive and suggest an alternative to Puhoi-Wellsford? We could just sit there yelling out “it’s a dumb project” but actually a lot of work has gone on over the years to come up with a constructive alternative that has had political buy-in from Labour, the Greens and the former Regional Council.

      1. What I find strange about our current government is that this issue is not a left or right thing; it is just the National party stuck in the 1950’s & 60’s when it comes to transport. In the UK the right wing Torres in power are doing many similar things as the National Party in reducing costs etc. but they are also spending billions of pounds on a new tube line ‘Crossrail’ even through there are dozens of tube lines already. Not because of the demand in the area where the train line is going, but because they want to rejuvenate and create demand in the area. I think National are shooting themselves in the foot over this one, & Gerry needs to wake up and smell the roses.

        1. Yes Adam, but it is a provincial v. city thing and it is a sign of their irrational, and out-of-date as you say, positioning themselves against any environmental concern. They seem to hold on the idea that the biosphere is a ‘nice to have’ and something they may consider after making money. Whereas in reality [ie not on Planet Key] the economy is a wholey owned subsidiary of the environment…. Yesterday’s men….

    4. Ejtma, you’ve hit the nail on the head, particularly your comment on wishing that this blog was more constructive, although to be fair the posters usually are; it’s some of the commenters who need to wake up a bit! It’s the occasional ad hom that I find personally distressing (I won’t say “offensive” as that’s an even bigger cop-out than “inappropriate”). Ad homs (and Godwins) say a lot more about the user than the object of the slight.

      As for widening the Britomart exit as an alternative to the CRL, I’ve been soundly trounced for suggesting that in the past. Yes, it would be very difficult now due to, ahem, current land ownership. And there are some constraints along the NBL to laying a third or fourth track, together with some track tweaking required at Newmarket, but even separation of the NIMT from the NBL at Quay Park would help, as part of the argument for the CRL is a through run from west to east (or vice versa). All trains will stop at Britomart so it really doesn’t matter if they reverse out or continue straight (as my GPS insists). Sure, a couple more stations along the proposed CRL route would be nice, but hardly a game-changer, and would cancel out any time-saving of the shorter route. BTW, I do support the CRL route acquisition/designation aspect, being similar to motorway designations and (for example) the Onehunga-Avondale rail designation, all sensible future-proofing moves at minimal cost. Sure, it disadvantages current landowners somewhat, but current usage can often continue for decades without compromising the planned project. (Who can remember the Otahuhu canal reserve? – now lifted I think).

      Back to the post – I agree that the northern exit from the tunnels needs upgrading; I assume the two-lane tunnels are still operating as one-laners due to this constraint (I haven’t been north for a while!). Operation Lifesaver seems like a great plan, although I would include a Wellsford bypass; that’s a no-brainer in my view. Pokeno and Mercer haven’t suffered a lot from being bypassed – it may even have enhanced them as destinations.

      As for those who believe (or is it hope?) that a change of government will solve all problems, I have just one word for you: dreamin’. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dik_wnOE4dk . Don’t forget that an opposition party can propose all sorts of wierd and wonderful ideas (think QE) and make exciting promises, except that when in government these get quietly forgotten, as they should be. As for the noughties, the then-government squandered all the cashflow from a booming economy on vote-catching devices, then left the present government to pick up the pieces during a global downturn. An honest lefty will acknowledge this (and those I know do). And there’s been an earthquake or two on top of the GFC. Note: To repeat what I have said before, I’m not a National supporter or voter so this is not a partisan comment.

      1. First up Operation Lifesaver is a no brainer and needs to go ahead, its only the stubborn plan to build the Holiday Highway at all costs thats holding back these changes that are patently needed, and there is no doubt that any work done for the above Warkworth bypass will not be wasted as the Puford RoNS if an d when its ever built will use that red strip of road anyway, and the other changes for the Matakana and east coast beaches link is a sensible extension of a major intersection to make it safer. So that work should start ASAP and the only reason it hasn’t is due to the insistence on doing the “full monty” on this road from Puhoi to Wellsford when all thats required is a series of tweaks and improvements for far less cost to achieve a similar result in half the time.
        Thats the “economic” crime that can be sheeted home to the current government and its transport ministers.
        And further more, if indeed the full PuFord RoNS did offer something better, by the time its actually consented and construction could start, a large chunk of the work will be scrapper by future (National or Labour) governments anyway, so that means that its then back to square one for Wellsford and Warkworth, meanwhile the accidents, deaths and congestion just keep increasing as no improvements are done as everyone is “waiting for Godot” and the Puford RoNS to arrive)

        For your other comments:

        “Pokeno and Mercer haven’t suffered a lot from being bypassed – it may even have enhanced them as destinations.”

        Short answer – You’re Dreamin’ mate.

        Longer answer:
        See todays Herald (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10857226) for a story about this topic, you an now add Kopu to that list. This article is about Kopu township (now bypassed by the new bridge/road network since last year), and includes a comment about the present situation of Pokeno – I don’t think that anyone in Pokeno thinks its all hunky dory now its been bypassed and has been for what 14+ years now?

        I haven’t stopped at Mercer for years and the only reason I’d do is because of the cheese shop there and its a real hassle to do so when coming from the north to access Mercer (not so from the south – if you keep your eyes out for the “off ramp”).
        Used to stop there a lot more when the road went through the place.

        So there are concerns for Warkworth with any major road diversions, but if the linkages to the main business area is maintained with *good* access to it from both directions as it above plan shows, then Warkworth may be able to avoid the Pokeno problem – and come out better off as a result.

        As for “As for the noughties, the then-government squandered all the cashflow from a booming economy on vote-catching devices, then left the present government to pick up the pieces during a global downturn.”

        Which vote catching devices were those then – was it the raising the top tax rate to 39 cents in 2000? or was it the chewing gum budget towards the end of that period? Or maybe it was the 8 years of steadfastly paying down of the government portion of the national debt?

        And that last point was a major reason why, when the GFC arrived (and when the quakes followed) that NZs economy didn’t tank like those in Greece, Portugal and Spain did. And that was largely due to the fact that the portion of Government debt in the national debt was low and this point has been openly acknowledged by the Treasury, the main overseas ratings agencies, IMF and even Bill English.

        As for the current government – it proclaims its PT friendly having committed an additional $1.6b to PT improvements, but as this blog post mentioned above by Patrick – from 2011 shows (when the EMU purchase was announced) http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/2011/07/27/busting-an-annoying-transport-myth/ its actually crowing about money committed/fully funded by the previous government in earlier years so most of the spending was already “paid for” in previous years.

        The only new spending that could be found by that post was some money on Wellingon rail improvements which is peanuts in comparison to the impact that the Puford RoNS is having on sensible projects like Operation Lifesaver right now and has been for the last 4 years.

        I don’t care for the current transport policy of ignoring the facts and logical and only doing whatever the Transport Minister says needs to be done (“as I know best”) and whether it is a right left or middle leaning government I don’t care – if they want to ignore facts and just do it ‘cos it feels right then that flies in the face on every 21st century economic management rule book on the planet (PT planet, or Planet Key or anywhere else).
        So how can any such government hold itself (or any other previous government) to account in the face of such methodology?

        1. It would be interesting to find out how much SH1 traffic, as opposed to ‘through’ traffic going to Omaha etc, actually stops at Warkworth rather than just going straight through. Also, I think the Herald article, while stating that the owner of the pub had only had it for 3 years, kind of glossed over that fact. What, the business was based around 4 busy days of the year when traffic was stopped outside?

          1. The figures are there to see. 17,000 vehicles per day Puhoi to Warkworth, 9,000 vpd Warkworth to Wellsford. So 8,000 vpd (just over half) are travelling to Warkworth or perhaps to Eastern beaches (Snells, Omaha etc.)
            Makes a nonsense of the “umbilical cord to the North” doesn’t it !!!

          2. The figure I would like to see is how many of those east bound vehicles drive through the Warkworth shops as opposed to along SH1 and turn off at Sandspit Road. A lot of holiday makers do go to the Warkworth supermarket but many more bypass the shops. As for traffic at non holiday times, I suspect few who commute from the eastern beaches pass through the shops on their way to and from work except to do some shopping. This is what I was thinking when I suggested a western link road from SH1 to SH16 or an alignment along the rail line to Wellsford. SH1, as it exists, then becomes the main road for Warkworth and the eastern beaches therefore removing the need for northbound traffic to pass near Warkworth. I would think the effect on the town centre would be minimal as most of the town users are locals or those bound for or returning from the beaches. I’m happy to be proven wrong.

          3. The Herald article was the sort of disappointing shallow ‘journalism’ we’ve sadly got used to – a dressed-up whinge.

            I’ve been going to the Coromandel since the late 80s and there has been talk of replacing the Kopu Bridge since then, if not earlier. Anyone who bought into a business three years ago based on those four busy days a year when the bridge bottleneck funnels you customers, a bottleneck that there has been talk of replacing for many years, has no right to get coverage in the Herald.

            It really annoys me when ‘journalists’ write such rubbish, when there are so many serious transport issues out there. How about writing to pressure the Government about Operation Lifesaver? The killer stretch of SH2 remaining south of the Bombays? (Not to mention certain worthy PT projects…) So many worthy uses of journalistic time, and then we get this…

          1. My apologies Patrick if you think I’m displaying bias. I’m of your generation, or maybe a little older, and am still learning stuff. My favourite posters are guys like Stu D & Matt L – young, smart, well-read, well-travelled, thoughtful, who write well-reasoned articles. I may not always agree with them, but I can understand their positiion and learn from it.

            I try very hard to remain open-minded, but acknowledge that I may not always succeed. Like all of us I form opinions based on both investigation and experience. The reason I frequent this blog is to expand my knowledge in areas that I have hitherto been less informed on. I’m largely agnostic on subjects such as public vs private transport; road vs rail; sprawl vs intensification, while learning more all the time. But that doesn’t mean that I mindlessly accept BS! That would be an intellectually and morally bankrupt approach. And I don’t think I’m alone in being uncomfortable with the abuse heaped by some commenters upon certain politicians – that’s no way to win an argument, and is in fact an early indicator of not having a sound argument.

            Oh, and I deeply admire your photography – sheer genius!

        2. Warkworth has something that Pokeno and Mercer (and Kopu for that matter) don’t have – a thriving little town centre that people on their way to the east coast beaches drop into. Mercer was turned into a little piece of the USA with that service stop which does nothing to try and tempt me there. It’s a horrible bloody car park with a few buildings. Pokeno is a nice little town that could do with some development that might tempt people to stop there. I think it could actually turn into a cool little town with such good transport links (rail potentially after Pukekohe gets electrified.). Create a little grid based town with some more intensive development around the main street and I think that would draw people to live there. Apart from the bacon store there was no real reason to stop there before the bypass. Waipu is a bit more like Warkworth, in that it thrives during summer, as it shares the same kind of benefits as Warkworth – the road to the beach.

          Matt: If the bypass were to be built, I don’t think the green section should be added. I think that could potentially be detrimental to Warkworth.

    5. Over estimation of peak demand is what drives much of NZ transport planning. It’s not that the government is doing “nothing” it’s that the reasoning and “solutions” in many cases is flawed.

  8. The most disappointing aspect is that if Operation Lifesaver or a similar scheme had been adopted, the work could be well underway by now. As is stands, there is no prospect of any of the work being started before 2015 with a completion date of 2019 for Puhoi to Warkworth and who knows when for Warkworth to Wellsford.

    1. This is indeed the most disappointing aspect. The road north of Wellsford is now in great shape due to the ongoing improvements and ironing out of the dangerous areas. None of this is happening south of Wellsford due to the ‘impending’ motorway.

  9. You are totally right about the inability of NZ drivers to merge. It’s ridiculous, they just don’t seem to able to get their heads around it.

    1. Yeah, that’s an extension of normal road behaviour here where car drivers just don’t voluntarily yield right-of-way. It’s rare to see a car slow down or stop to let somebody through if they don’t have to, they must be compelled by signage. I cross New North Rd by foot often and sometime you have to wait minutes for a decent driver to slow down so you can cross.

      Also, teaching drivers that driving slowly is dangerous doesn’t help. I never heard of this before I came here but when I took my licence conversion test I was almost failed for driving ~60-70 on a 80 road (unfamiliar car, unfamiliar route, twisty and hilly road, wet pavement). The whole road atmosphere is “drive as close to the proscribed speed as possible”.

      1. As per the sign just south of Warkworth – “it’s not a target”. Apparently it is even in the minds of traffic engineers. Just try suggesting a road should have a lower speed design and you are looked at like you’re crazy.

      2. Driving slower than the speed limit can be just as dangerous as going faster, hence you can and should be fined for being 20km/hr under the limit, it’s the same in Australia, America and in some european countries I have been too. Not only are vehicles expecting you to go a certain speed when making driving decisions but you frustrate the hell out of other drivers causing risk taking.

        Also when say taking a driving test, they want to see you comfortably driving and you can control the vehicle on the road. If you are constantly going 10 – 20km/hr under the speed limit it is showing you are not comfortable behind the wheel and probably shouldn’t be on the road. In wet conditions you lower your speed before entering corners and increase following distance when behind vehicles. However no excuse to drive that slow unless the road is shot.

        Also the “drive as close to the proscribed speed as possible”. atmosphere you are talking is not true, if that was the problem we would be in a good space. The atmosphere that gets us in trouble on the roads is the “drive as fast as I possibly can”, which usually entitles driving at least 10km/hr above the speed limit, slowing down when you see a cop, or holden that maybe a undercover cop.

    2. I wonder what became of the “Merge like a zip” signs on on-ramps – about the only useful signs ever. Far better than “If tired take a rest” (or similar) – duh!

      I use the Gillies Ave on-ramp a lot and in fact most drivers seem to cooperate pretty well on that portion of the motorway, except for those who change lanes without signalling which is a recipe for disaster. So maybe the “Merge” signs have done their job…

      1. The merge signs were good Jonno. Unfortunately many Auckland drivers have no idea how to “merge like a zip” which is why we now have those damn on-ramp lights to try to control the chaos.

        Gee I love the days I take the train and avoid all that motorway madness. Oh hell, I’ve just realised I’m miles off topic. Sorry!

        1. You think it’s bad in Auckland but then you drive to another town and it makes you realise the jafa’s aren’t so bad after all. Tauranga! Geez folks, the world isn’t ending and another 5 seconds won’t kill you.

  10. @Peter M, I don’t disagree with what you are saying, however I would caution that it is easy for Labour and the Greens to say they will do something now as they are not the government, and don’t have to fund their promises at the moment. My comment about this post was more directed at the statement that all malls build sufficient carparks to suit the boxing day sales, which simply isn’t true. I feel this devalues what was otherwise a well reasoned argument you put up.

    @Greg N, I agree with most of what you write, and this Government has been responsible for meddling, but no more so that the previous Labour “Dictatorship” did in my affairs with their nanny state, which was the reason they got voted out so comprehensively. Many would argue less so.

    @Patrick Reynolds, once again I don’t disagree with what you are saying, I just don’t agree with yours and many others vision that Labour and the Greens will solve all the issues, because they won’t. It is easy to snipe from the sidelines, it is much harder to do things when you are in Government.

    @jonno1 you have elucidated what I was trying to say much more succinctly.

    @Bryce P it is very easy for Phil Twyford to say what he wants or what he thinks people want to hear as he doesn’t have to deliver on anything.

    My main point I suppose is that this blog needs to try and be constructive in its comments as they are well read, if it is seen as a party political broadcast on behalf of the Labour party or the greens then people will turn off, or dismiss what is being written. I think it is unhelpful the general tone of comments which just slag off Gerry Brownlee, as no matter what you think of him, or his appearance to make progress he has to be got onside. As a suggestion why doesn’t one the blog writers try and interview him in an impartial manner, but get your point across, you never know it may change the way he thinks.

    The council need to do a much better job of communicating and selling the CRL. You only have to read the press over the holdiays to see the problem, and Mike Lee is not helping either.

    Those who think a change in government will change things are dreaming, the reality is NZ is in the do do’s due to the GFC mainly, but also due to some extraordinary waste by the prior government with some ridiculous spending such as the buy back of KiwiRail and the student loans policy. NZ has some serious headwinds coming with the dollar and rising interest rates. Ironically both will probably do more to assist with the goals of this blog than anything else. Labour and the Greens will have to fund their policies as they won’t be able to spend more than they earn, and will have to be careful not to undermine the tax base, in what is already a well taxed country.

    The further challenge is the council elections this year, and who will run which was well covered last week. No doubt a strong candidate will come forward who many will say is a puppet for the National Party, don’t forget Len Brown is a puppet for the Labour Party who claims to be independent. I think Len Brown has some challenges to get re-elected because the rates rises he bought in last year will really hit home just before the elections. This could mean there is a right leaning council and a left leaning government after the next round of elections, although it is more probable in 2017. For Len to make good on his last election promises I think he needs to work hard to get the Government on side, but also to sort out his councils communication.

    I for one would like to see this blog take the lead with a balanced and well reasoned interview with Gerry Brownlee and see where it heads.

    1. There have been well reasoned questions asked of Gerry Brownlee (e.g. those asked by Julie-Ann Genter); his responses are consistently bluff, bluster and abuse. Why do you think there will be a road to damascus Brownlee moment if even more rational questions are asked of him and even more facts presented to him?

      One of the points made by Labour and Greens (and many others) is that there is money currently being spent on the roads of national significance that could be more productively spent on other (transport) projects, so I don’t understand your “I would caution that it is easy for Labour and the Greens to say they will do something now as they are not the government, and don’t have to fund their promises at the moment.” Or perhaps you are implying that the roads of national signficiance are unaffordable?

      1. You simply can’t take any questions asked in parliament seriously. Whilst the question may be insightful, the responses simply aren’t. Question time is a low rate comedy at best. The only function I see is for the opposition to raise issues that the media will pick up on. For an opposition MP to think that they will get any insight into the government at this time is foolhardy.

        The fact that the media have not picked up on the issues relating to the CRL would suggest the opposition is doing a poor job, the council are not taking their opportunities to issue their own responses, the is in fact low public interst, or the media is poor. I suspect it is a combination of the four.

    2. Well said ejtma. One further example of wasting the tax take is WFF (which National has failed to wind back, although they have at least corrected the anomaly of tax losses, eg from rental properties, being included in the calculation). What sort of person would claim WFF while knowingly attributing a business loss to personal income? My personal and business affairs are kept totally separate which probably means I pay more tax than I might do, although I did have an LAQC (now an LTC) but couldn’t manage to make a loss no matter how hard I tried! Nor has National done much about the student loan rort. Also, the GFC was signalled well ahead of the 2008 election (by at least a year – think sub-prime mortgages).

      I despair of any strong opponent to Len Brown arising this year (of any political persuasion, even from his own party). John Banks didn’t put up much of a fight last time, but there needs to be robust debate to either reinforce or demolish Len’s policies.

      Finally, an excellent suggestion re attempting an interview with Gerry Brownlee.

      1. Hang on, the last Labour government introduced WFF, interest-free student loans (list your ‘election bribe’ here), but had the income to pay for it through the 39% top tax rate and (at that stage) booming economy. That’s why they consistently ran budget surpluses and paid down the national debt.

        National came in, chose to keep these policies intact, but chose to eliminate the revenue stream that was paying for them.

        The idea that Labour wasted money until National came in and reinstated ‘sensible’ spending is total National Party spin (something they’re very good at). Labour were far from perfect but the only reason the current government has any fiscal breathing room is because the last Labour government spent years paying down sovereign.

        And TBH the student loan ‘rort’ pales in insignificance compared to the ever-swelling, totally unaffordable superannuation timebomb that this government is doing absolutely nothing about (and indeed making worse by suspending Cullen Fund contributions). This government is happy to burden younger generations with the unaffordable costs of generous superannuation for baby boomers (who, of course, never paid the hefty student fees their children did).

        1. Oh dear here we go again.
          “Generous” superannuation is a subjective opinion masquerading as fact and so is “unaffordable”. It is neither generous nor unaffordable.
          And you are right about not paying “hefty” (another emotionally overcharged word pretending to be a fact)student fees: I never paid student fees as I did not go to University; I couldn’t afford to go. Only around 6% of people went to University in the sixties/seventies so there is no equivalence in this “argument” of yours.

          1. Super represents about half of all social welfare spending. It is not means tested, unlike every single other benefit we have – so those who do not need it still get it. Given the current demographic trends showing the over-65 population doubling as a proportion of all New Zealanders (from about 12% now to 25% in a few decades, from memory) as the population ages – this is very much an unaffordable issue that is only going to get worse unless we address it. More people claiming a benefit and fewer paying for them. And I haven’t even brought up the effects of an aging population on the health system.

            There are many reasons why fewer people went to university in the sixties/seventies – many didn’t need to (apprenticeships, near-zero unemployment, high job security, higher real wages than today, affordable housing). Those that did, did not pay student fees and did not have to borrow money to live off, unlike today’s generations.

    3. Ejtma: every time you write ‘can’t disagree with what you are saying, but…’ Aren’t you just saying you have no reasonable argument but you’re still going to hold onto your prejudices?

  11. Criticism of some writers tendency to politicise transport decision making by etnja looses its impact somewhat as it spirals into a wealth of very political assertions that do little to advance transport knowledge. Few could argue that the reshaping of the local government act, the RNA, and will give greater precedence to central governments transport aspirations as expressed in the government policy statement. This is frightening because this “statement” is just that a statement. It’s not a strategy. It’s not a widely considered or analytical response. It is purely a reflection if the politics of the day. No amount of reasoning or well presented argument has been altered the development of these acts. I am not sure why anyone could be naive enough to think that simply presenting a better case on the crl or having yet another chat with Gerry brownlie would be enough to ensure best practise and reason were drivers for future decision making? It hasn’t worked thus far.

    1. There are plenty out there.

      BTW on your suggestion of interviewing Gerry Brownlee, the CBT has tried to have a meeting with him to introduce the organisation like they have with all previous transport ministers. So far there have been numerous attempts and every single time he refuses saying he is too busy. Further instead of criticising us, how about you write some posts that you think balance out the conversation (I actually have no political affiliation or voting preference)

  12. Well said Egtma, one eyed political views don’t help to solve problems and opposition parties will always pander to the vocal minorities in order to attract votes, but if this blog offers constructive alternatives that strike a chord with the general populance then those in power must take heed.
    The underlying reason that all major cities get transportation improvements is to hold an event, ie Olympics, Commonwealth Games etc. Auckland as the major host of the Rugby World Cup received the lions share of funding for transport and Stadium overhauls due to RWC 2011.
    The world bank dictates the terms on transportation and when they see that business is suffering or slowing down they tell whichever government is in power to take the necessary steps to improve the situation and they supply the funding.
    That being said New Zealand has always had a North vs South problem. Canterbury with their small minded attitude has always been the stick in the mud for any funding being allocated to Auckland and will continue to do so.

  13. The point I endeavoured to make above is that the high level strategic drivers for transport investment will become MORE political and not less political. Events such as the rugby World Cup do exert a short term influence but are by no means the primary reason. The kingsland rail station improvements were driven by this event but are only part of a wide rail station improvement. Henry: The world bank has absolutely no bearing on transport decision making in NZ.

  14. Egtma, it’s an interesting point your raise re the politicisation of the transport debate. By and large this blog does a pretty good job of playing the issues and not the politics, and offering actual solutions.

    In reality though, it’s the current government that has chosen to politicise transport. Steven Joyce made no bones about his ideological opposition to planning – he in fact wrote an opinion piece in a Sunday paper about it a couple of years back – read it, it’s very enlightening. Cars = freedom, apartments = socialist – something like that. All very politically charged, muddying the waters of an actual debate about transport investment on its merits. The kind of debate this blog has always encouraged.

    Oh and while we’re on the subject of unnecessary politicising of the transport debate, let’s not forget which National Transport Minister mocked Phil Twyford in parliament for “reading too many left-wing transport blogs”.

  15. Many commentators above seem to have forgotten transport budget is largely seperate from the general budget, and this govt is currently using money from Crown Fund to backstop the blown transport budget. To sum it up there is heaps of money to spend on transport in NZ, and bugger all for anything else. Whatever your views I can’t see many people agree RONS are more important that anything else whether it be health, education, lower tax, superannuation etc.
    The main issue a future govt will have is with timing in the short term. That is about how many projects get contracts signed in 2015, thus comitting new government to spend on National’s projects in the short term. However will be fine after a couple of years.
    The new government might be lucky with Puhoi Warkworth and this seems to keep getting delayed, I’m sure is well behind schedule. Consortium to prepare Notice of Requirement has only just been signed up, so lodging consents still a long while away yet.

  16. Dear Peter, with all the respect in the world, on your drawing you seem to be re-creating the same problem intersection a bit further up the road. Surely it would be better for the green line to the eastern beaches/towns to leave the bypass before the existing road north from Warkworth joins the end of the bypass to continue north, so that the two traffic flows don’t have to come into contact and conflict with each other, e.g., by having the green line bridge over the existing road, perhaps with on/off ramps for forgetful people who drive north to go south, and vice versa, by mistake.

    1. The green line is being talked about as a local road once P2W is complete to allow traffic heading to those beaches to avoid Warkworth entirely. With the bypass the idea is that if you are going to the town itself then you stay on the existing road, if you are going anywhere else you use the bypass and as it won’t be contending with local traffic and would be designed with todays standards in place, it isn’t likely to to suffer the same problems that currently exist.

      1. Had a thought about that yesterday Matt while driving to Ruakaka. Why not make the bypass a toll road? As we only envisage a 2 lane road (which gives 4 lanes in total using SH1 and the capacity to move, what, 30k cars a day?) this could have the effect of keeping some traffic on the existing road thereby maximising the use of the existing road, providing income for maintenance and improvements and keeping traffic going through Warkworth so potentially avoiding the ghost town scenario. After all NZTA are set up now to much more easily implement it. Surely user pays is the kind of thing the Nats would be in favour of (even though they are using socialist ideas for the RoNS)

      2. Thanks Matt. I’m just trying to avoid a repeat of the stupidity of a Gillies Ave/Khyber Pass situation – i.e., traffic leaving should leave before traffic joining joins (is that so radical?). I realise the traffic volumes are less, but surely the aim of design should be to avoid unnecessary conflicts.

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