by Brian Hale
Reading the notes of the public meeting held on Wednesday 15 May it is clear that residents, commuters and business people can expect the traffic delays and congestion along Highway 16 to the North Western Motorway to get a lot worse before it gets better, and the ‘better’ will probably not happen for several years yet. After all, how long did the roundabout at Waimauku take, and that was a fairly simple job?
If you, like me, sit at a side road or car park exit waiting to turn on to the highway while 20, 30 or 40 vehicles go by before there is a long enough break to enable you to safely join the seemingly endless stream of traffic, you can be forgiven for wondering “how did we get in this state”. The answer is simple: BUREAUCRATIC BUNGLING, in other words approval was given for 2,000 houses with no infrastructure plan.
Traffic has been steadily increasing along the highway for many years, but at a manageable rate. Did it occur to anybody that, with such a large development, there would be insufficient jobs in the immediate area for the new residents so most would have to commute to jobs elsewhere. And did they not realise that even the building process would increase the traffic significantly, so maybe proper access was fundamental!
You would think that by now the planners would be able to get things in the right order i.e. Entire concept, permits, power supply, water reticulation, sewage, roading, parking, communication supply, shopping centre, house building, schools etc. But alas it is more usual for it to be Partial concept, permits, house building, power supply, shopping centre, schools, roading, water reticulation, parking, sewage, communication supply, or some equally random order, which causes chaos for both existing residents and businesses as well as newcomers.
Sadly nobody is ever held accountable for the planners’ stupidity so the mess is repeated time and time again, and the rest of us suffer the consequences.
So where to now? Well that is where it gets complicated. Because the building came before the Entire concept the meeting notes indicate that now a number of compromises have to be found instead of a really good plan. For example:
Station Road Proposal
Auckland Transport (AT) developed options around what the intersection should look like. The business case for the Gyratory has received AT Board approval, which is now subject to NZTA approval. … It is difficult to do a crossroads intersection here due to the railway line. It would have to accommodate for future proofing (three railway tracks and electrification). This would have huge implications for the design – the bridge over the railway would need to be widened and heightened. With the gyratory option it means they can retain the existing bridge (the two lanes will be for traffic coming in to Kumeu form Helensville) and build two new lanes for traffic heading towards Helensville. They spent two years looking at designs because of the complexity.
Then there is the question of the Brigham Creek Bridge widening (at least 2 years away), Riverhead Road joining the highway, and what about Access Road and then Taupaki Road, all with their own individual problems and various possible solutions to be discussed, rejected and finally a compromise reached. It could have been so much better if the Entire concept had been completed before the building had been started.
The latest stupidity
This comes in the form of a proposal by AT to put a traffic light controlled pedestrian crossing between the old shops at the end of Matua Road and the new shops beside the Huapai Tavern.
Their plan includes road narrowing, adding cycleways, removing the on street carparks so customers can not stop outside the shops and low level planting, to make it all look pretty. As if there was not enough congestion on SH16 why not bring it to a complete halt every few minutes, a brilliant idea. Have these people never heard of a pedestrian overbridge?
The full notes of the meeting are available on our website at www.helensvillecommunitynews.co.nz or from Chris Penk’s office Cheryl.Morovic@parliament.govt.nz.