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Feedback sought on Holiday Highway

NZTA’s consultation process for constructing the Holiday Highway has kicked off in a rather interesting fashion – as they’re inviting people to help “uncover Dome Valley’s secrets”. Here’s the media release:

Uncovering Dome Valley’s secrets – NZTA needs your help!

The new Puhoi to Wellsford road of national significance is about the future but the NZ Transport Agency says planning and construction of the route also has a lot to do with its historic past and its present day environment.

One area attracting attention from the NZTA as its consults with local people about the new highway is the Dome Valley, which includes a section of the existing State Highway 1.

“This part of Rodney is significant for two very different reasons – one has to do with its past and the other with the present,” says the NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland Tommy Parker.

The Dome Forest Conservation Area is acknowledged as containing a number of important heritage sites such as an historic log skidder close to the current highway. It is also the home to the endangered Hochstetter frog, one of four remaining native New Zealand frogs which is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The area is classified as an Outstanding Nature Landscape by the Auckland Regional Council due to its mature native vegetation, including kauri, rimu and kahikatea.

“Working together with the local community, local authorities and interested parties to identify special areas is vital for NZTA. Pinpointing as many special areas like this as possible helps us to do our very best to design a specific route that acknowledges those areas and provides mitigation where required,” Mr Parker says.

Other examples of important sites include businesses like Southern Paprika Limited north of Warkworth, family graves in rural areas, places of importance to Maori, and special fauna and flora such as rare native mistletoe.

“When it comes to the fine detail in planning the route of a new highway, there is no substitute for local information,” says Mr Parker.

Any further information on the project and the current consultation process can be found at www.nzta.govt.nz/puhoi-wellsford.

You are able to give rather specific feedback by filling in the “online consultation form”, which can be found here. I suggest with any feedback provide a liberal sprinkling of “this is a complete and utter waste of money” and “you’re condemning a lot of people to their deaths by not doing a safety upgrade to the road earlier“. I’ll put together my feedback and post it up here some time in the next few days once I’ve had the opportunity to have a good think about it.

One thing that is interesting, and it’s a bit of a conspiracy theory I suppose, is the slight feeling I get from reading that media release that NZTA kind of want problems for the road to come out of the woodwork, and want us to get an idea about how sensitive the environment through Dome Valley is in particular. I didn’t know that it was the home of the endangered Hochstetter Frog, I didn’t know that it as classified as an Outstanding Natural Landscape. To be honest, it’s actually rather odd that NZTA are telling us all this, as usually they try to downplay the environmental impact of any proposal.

Which is where my conspiracy theory comes in. Maybe this is a ploy by NZTA to invite problems for the project, because they’re smart enough to realise how utterly stupid it is, and what a complete waste of money it would be. Just as was the case for the review of the Harbour Crossing options – which I think Steven Joyce intended so that consideration of the ANZAC Bridge would occur, but that option has effectively been written off at the outset by 10 million uses of the word additional, I wonder if NZTA are almost trying to invite enough problems to ensure the project can’t get going before we have a different transport minister who’d be smart enough to can the whole thing.

Perhaps I’m completely wrong here and NZTA are just doing their job properly for once by trying to fully understand the constraints before they go and slam a motorway through an incredibly sensitive environment, but I’m sceptical. If my ‘conspiracy theory’ idea is right, then I have just three words to say:

Great work NZTA.

15 comments to Feedback sought on Holiday Highway

  • James B

    Weird that your link to the NZTA website is not working.

  • DC

    I hope they listen and take on what I’ve said about scaling it back to just bypass Warkworth and the left over funds to be spent on rail.

  • Matt L

    While I would like to think that your conspiracy theory is correct I do doubt it and think they are just being thorough, that way when they do build it they won’t get any nasty surprises that could derail it.

  • rtc

    It’s telling that almost all the images in the Gallery section of the project page show images of trucks….

    Once again they claim traffic will increase by almost 30% in the next few years – traffic is declining based on a previous post.

  • ingolfson

    If your conspiracy theory about NZTA is right, admin, then aren’t you undermining their intent by discussing it in the open?

  • ingolfson

    I submitted. Told them it’s not the right priority, and if they DO build it, they need to take care of barrier / visual effects, and to make sure cycling is covered too.

  • Jeremy Harris

    Ha ha, nice theory… There are plenty of rumours that the engineers in the NZTA realise that Joyce is bonkers and it’s a case of just doing what the boss says…

  • Matt L

    Also there was a story the other day saying there would be no off ramps between Warkworth and Wellsford. This means traffic won’t be able to get off at Puhoi or anywhere else in-between (not that there is much anyway).

    Also I wonder what would happen with the tolls. The $2 is just for Orewa to Puhoi section, if you can’t get off at Puhoi then the new section is essentially free. The other option is to increase the toll to about $5 per trip then a similar amount from Warkworth to Wellsford, this is something that won’t be popular and both issues are just one more things for locals to complain about.

  • TopCat

    If the road is to have no exits, that means the existing road will need to be maintained to its current standard. It also means that where the new and old roads intersect, you will need to have 100% grade separation. This makes the decision to follow the existing alignment (including straight through the steep and sensitive Dome Valley) even more confusing. If you are going to put in a 100% new/separate roadway, why would you choose an existing route?? You suspect they will be spending a lot of money just to get out of the way of the existing SH1.

  • ingolfson

    If they want to toll it, they need to retain the old layout anyway, as the required free alternative route. Do they intend to toll it? Any talk of that?

  • Jeremy Harris

    Tolls have been mentioned by Joyce…

  • rtc

    So we’ll end up with 2 super expensive roadways to maintain instead of one, and next door the railway will be pulled out…nice priorities Joyce.

  • HMD

    “Puhoi to Wellsford New Highway”, what a misnomer. With no Puhoi access to the motorway, intended tourist visitors on their way up north will now be required to make a 27km detour to visit Puhoi on the “unsafe” SH1.
    New Zealand prides itself on it’s tourism yet NZTA is willing to reduce the accessibility to one of it’s truly historical villages.
    The decision to cut off the area was taken by the NZTA who identified, based on the number of residents , that “only Warkworth & Wellsford justify having access points”. This was done without any public consultation and one would question if there was any involvement with the tourist board. If a count was to be taken of the enormous number of visitors who enjoy the village on most weekends and especially on Farmers market day or holiday periods I am sure this decision would be reversed.
    There is also potentially a great cost to the community in losing this access (business closures, loss of jobs, property depreciation etc.etc.) but, if the ramps are left as they are, (ingress and egress to and from the south only) toll collection can still be made from the Orewa barrier.

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