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Puhoi Warkworth Hearing Finishes Today

This is the seventh in a series of posts based on the Campaign for Better Transport’s submission to the Puhoi to Warkworth Board of Inquiry

The Board of Inquiry Hearing into the Puhoi Warkworth toll road was meant to finish last week, however NZTA are giving their closing submission today (Thursday 5th June) at Courtroom 2.01, Level 2 Chorus Building, 42 Federal St, from 10am.

The CBT was permitted to submit a written closing submission, which we did so on Wednesday of last week.

On Friday of the previous week, we were given permission to cross examine the NZTA’s traffic expert on the significant issues we have raised here in previous posts. You can read the full transcript yourself, but in general all of the points made in previous posts on the blog were confirmed, including traffic modelling being based on no toll tariff for the toll road.  Of course, in spite of all the inconsistencies with the traffic evidence, the NZTA still conclude that “No expert traffic evidence has been called to dispute the evidence”, and the Board haven’t been of a mind to appoint any experts of their own to advise them, as has been the case in the Basin Reserve Board of Inquiry.

To help with the legal aspects of our submission, the CBT engaged the services of Rob Enright, a former RMA solicitor now acting as a barrister, to write a closing legal submission. Rob had recent success on behalf of the Environmental Defence Society in the Supreme Court.  There is a lot for the Board to consider in the legal submission, but as Rob says:

Perhaps CBT’s strongest point is that the NZTA has failed to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of the relative merits of the proposed designation, despite this being commonplace for NZTA projects.

Remember, the proposed toll road is just 700m shorter than the existing route. At most, just 3 minutes will be shaved off current journey times.  For trips to Warkworth and the Matakana beaches, travel time savings are likely to be zero. It will be interesting to see how the Board and NZTA respond to the legal points Rob has made.

So the following issues remain in contention for the CBT:

1. Whether projected traffic volumes for the Project route and existing SH1 are realistic
2. Whether a supporting economic analysis consistent with the NZTA’s Economic Evaluation Manual should be supplied
3. Whether alternatives have been adequately considered
4. Whether unsafe sections of the existing SH1 require mitigation

We’ve covered all but the last of these issues in previous posts , so the remainder of this post focuses on the safety of the existing SH1, and comes from our closing submission.

The  Traffic Report 2026 Project case forecasts that the existing SH1 will remain three times as dangerous as the toll road, as illustrated here with the 3rd and 4th columns of this bar chart:

forecast injury crashes

 

The overall forecast reduction in accidents (23%) is only achieved if the forecast reduction in traffic on the existing SH1 eventuates.

In Section 2.4 Effect of Traffic Report Assumptions of our closing submission, we identified the potential for an increase in traffic on the 2026 existing SH1 of between 5,089 and 7,027 vehicles a day, primarily due to the effect of tolling.

Since accident rates are assumed to be in proportion to traffic, the forecast reduction in accidents will not occur if more traffic is on the relatively unsafe SH1.

In addition, we believe this could mean that the overall accident rate on the corridor between Puhoi and Wellsford will not improve as a result of the Project, as with current modelling there is only a small improvement in annual injury accidents forecast. More traffic on SH1 would potentially eliminate this slight improvement.

The Traffic Report considers future accident rates on the Project toll road and the existing SH1, and states :

The average annual number of injury crashes in the corridor is forecast to decrease by five (23%) in the year 2026 in comparison to the future traffic volumes on the existing SH1 route.

Modelling crash rates in the entire corridor, including the existing SH1, is the correct approach.

But it is unclear why a 23% improvement is an acceptable figure. It should not become a defacto target. Accident rates could be lower if further improvements to the existing SH1 were undertaken.

The Traffic Report identifies a number of accident black spots. For instance :

The 1.6km section of road between Valerie Close and McKinney Road has had the most serious and fatal crashes. The one fatal pedestrian crash was within this section approximately 160m north of the SH1 and Toovey Road intersection.

To remedy this is estimated to cost $2.9m, with a BCR of 2.1. (Costs and BCRs come from this OIA document.)

Schedewys Hill has a particularly poor horizontal and vertical alignment with two passing lanes on curves that terminate near bends. This geometry has resulted in a large number of minor injury accidents on this relatively short section of SH1.

To remedy this was estimated to cost between $25.8m and $70m in 2002, with a BCR of between 1.3 and 1.4.

Similarly, the Pohuehue Viaduct can be made safer for a cost of just $4.7m (2006), with a high BCR of 3.2.

It seems perverse that the NZTA will entertain spending millions of dollars in order to minimise the removal of the Kauri trees across the project area , and yet will not spend any money to provide for the additional health and safety of people and communities. Environmental mitigation is important, but the safety of people and communities should be even more so.

The fact that the NZTA has chosen a Project alignment outside of the current SH1 alignment should not exonerate the NZTA from making these safety improvements, particularly as positive BCRs have already been calculated.

A draft decision from the Board is due in late July

27 comments to Puhoi Warkworth Hearing Finishes Today

  • George D

    I’ll say it again: transport must be taken from the hands of the NZTA. They are killing people while wasting billions.

    We can put them in charge of standards for microwave ovens, or something inconsequential.

    • I know what you are saying but remember that many of the RoNS have been forced on NZTA by the governments crazy priorities. In our interactions with NZTA, Cycle Action Auckland has actually found them to be the good guys and keen to work on improving cycling.

      The real resistance to change is at AT. They are really not convinced that removing parking and car lanes will not result in Carmageddon no matter how many studies and examples are shown to them. They are also very scared to try things and just see what happens a la NY and JSK.

      They insist on studying active mode projects until they die a natural death. This is appropriate for motor vehicle infrastructure where you have multi-tonne hunks of metal flying at each. However, why do you need multiple studies to tell you whether some bollards will improve a shared space? Denying access to cars will only make an area safer, not more dangerous.

      AT is full of 1950s thinkers. They talk a big game but there is little action.

      • George D

        Except that their behaviour at these hearings is entirely voluntary. Their consistently bloody-minded response to even the most reasonable of local challenges is voluntary. Their refusal to give over parts of their projects to local councils and communities is voluntary.

        I don’t buy the “it’s all the funding” argument. Money speaks, but so do actions.

  • Warren S

    +1 It really needs changes at the top. And in Auckland the best expenditure of petrol tax is not necessarily on roads. Other options and especially the City Rail Link are far better options for Aucklanders.

  • I am hopeful that the BoE will be amenable to the sound arguments and evidence that Campaign for Better Transport has put forward, but if not we still have an election on September 20 that is likely the only way we’ll see a sane transport policy in the near future.

    NZTA: Still building highways like climate change, oil depletion and car ambivalence never happened.

    It must be difficult to handle the cognitive dissonance of on one hand seeing more mega-roads as the future while realising that the free ride for internal combusion engines won’t go on much longer. And electric vehicles are still having negligible impact in the grand scheme of things.

  • What surprises me is that Auckland Council and Auckland Transport support this project without a business case. At a minimum they should have been able to extract support for the projects that they want to pursue, but it appears that they have squandered the opportunity.

  • Mr Plod

    Guys, well done for engaging in this charade being perpetrated for holidaying politicos. We all do appreciate your passion and just hope it’s not a lost cause.
    The real question is not how do we wear the bastards down bu how do we get everyone to consider solutions from a parallel universe. eg: We call it the holiday highway and all know that all the effort is primarily to make travel easier on a few days either side of key holiday periods (pun intended). So thinking about holidays, when you decide to go to the Islands or the Gold Coast (or your Condo in Hawaii) to soak up the sun you don’t expect to just rock up at the airport and be able to climb on the first available plane and get delivered to your destination without interacting with the world. No, you consult schedules, you negotiate times with your family, you book an allocated portion of a scheduled service. Furthermore you play the congestion pricing game and depending on how you feel the pain of price you select from the range of fares and travel times on offer.SO, why shouldn’t access to another scare holiday travel resource be any different? I’m sure the bright boys from Xero, Sparkbox or Unleashed would be easily able to devise a time slotting mechanism for the current SH1 route over those critical periods and sell travel slots on-line. So if you really want to travel North at a peak time like 3pm on Christmas Day you pay dearly whereas 3am the night before you might get lucky enough to be paid to travel in that slot. We could subcontract a suitable qualified security firm to ensure people are able to travel at their allotted time and those who rock up on the hope of a no-show get suitable fleeced. It’s a model we all understand and the technology now makes it easy to apply to highway travel.
    Or how about this. On the days everyone wants to travel North the road becomes a one-way north road between 9am and 3pm doubling its carrying capacity for that period. We contract RallyNZ to run this one as they are experienced at closing roads to all bar a select group.
    Come on guys we don’t need to buy into the old models of spending our way to decongestion, there must be fifty more ways of leaving this lover – let’s have them.

  • Ray Clarke

    This blog site is opposed to the extension of the Puhoi to Warkworth Road but is full on for Auckland Rail This is unfair and those folk up North are also AUCKLAND COUNCIL RATEPAYERS WHO WILL NEVER USE LEN BROWNS RAILWAY.

    • And I am an Auckland Council rate payer who will never use the Puhoi to Warkworth Road. What’s your point?

      We all help fund infrastructure in a big city that we never use. That is what cities work so well, we all cross subsidise and allow bigger projects to be built.

    • conan

      Ray, with all due respect, the ratepayers ‘up north’ get a great deal out of the super city. You came into the city with the highest per capita debt and you have vast tracks of sparsely populated land linked with expensive roads that serve very few people. The building of Puhoi to Warkworth motorway will add yet another cost to Auckland ratepayers as we will become responsible for the upkeep and improvement of the old SH1.

      • So lets look at this (sorry for the late replies but i just found this blog) We didnt ‘come’ into the Super city it was forced upon us. You can ask anyone up here and 90% will tell you we didnt want it. We have seen our rates increase for some services by 4x. Regardless of how far from the CBD we are we are still part of Auckland, but your response shows the typical JAFA attitude that we are now also tarnished by through association. I hope this is a toll road, yes I would acutally like to pay for its use, because it is worth it to me just as it would be worth it to all of the trucks that would utilise it and the other residents up here that will use it daily to commute to work. There would be no improvements on the old SH1 as they have said that the NZTA needs to get it to a specific standard before they would take it over, and there has been practically no upkeep on the Orewa to Puhoi section going via Waiwera since the new motorway went in, so thats no excuse either. I also hope that we can find some way to get out of this pathetic super city shambles as it has been a joke from the get go

        • conan

          “You can ask anyone up here and 90% will tell you we didnt want it.” “I also hope that we can find some way to get out of this pathetic super city shambles as it has been a joke from the get go”

          Potentially you should get together and leave. Before you do that you need to weigh up whether you get more out of the super city than you put in. You have an expensive network of roads servicing a small population and you’d want to be sure this is cheaper for you to fund yourselves. You also need to consider how you will fund the considerable debt you brought into the supercity, which no doubt you would get to have back on departure.

          “I hope this is a toll road”

          To fund the road through tolls taking into account the projected traffic would be $17 per journey. Are you sure?

          • David

            Conan, there is a movement to do just that and get out of the Supercity, but it is being blocked by those who see the rateable base up here as something worth having, and yes we will happily take out our original debt. It’s still less than we now ow under the Super City and will owe under Len Brown’s plans. The difference is we got value for money form it and the debt was spent here, not on the inner city. Maybe the solution to the current funding problems is for inner city rates to increase.

          • conan

            “but it is being blocked by those who see the rateable base up here as something worth having”

            Seriously? Who are these ‘those’.

            Current city debt is sitting at about $3800 per person. So less than what you brought in by your figures.

            As an inner city dweller I’m confident that I’d be better off without Rodney leaving so I fully support your campaign, let me know where to sign up.

          • David

            Conan, and just to confirm that, in 2010 the Rodney debt was 300million, on the basis of 54 thousand residents, or about 5.5k per person. Under Len its got up 300% to pay for nothing extra up here.

          • conan

            with Rodney leaving that should be…

    • Bryce P

      The existing SH1 is a perfectly good road. It needs some tweaks but not a motorway.

  • Ray, you clearly haven’t read any of the posts, but rather than delete your comment I’ll summarise:

    1. The Puhoi to Warkworth toll road has not been subject to any cost benefit analysis. It is highly likely that the residents of Warworth and Matakana will never use the toll road as it joins SH1 2km to the north of Warkworth.
    2. The “folk up North” will not benefit at all from the toll road. A three minute travel time saving will not make any difference to their economy. Their economy could well be improved if the money that was being spent on the toll road was being spent in Northland, but we’ll never know as NZTA haven’t analysed this.
    3. We’ve proposed an alternative that is at least $500m cheaper than the toll road, however NZTA haven’t bothered to analyse this on the grounds that it isn’t a four lane motorway, and it isn’t tollable.
    4. You need to familiarise yourself with the substantial benefits that the CRL will bring: http://at.govt.nz/crlbenefits

    • I like how you are talking for us but you dont live here so dont actually understand how many people will use the road. From a fuel economy point of view alone I’d happily head north a little to get onto the motorway, and travel ties will be increased more than by 3 minutes, especially when there are so many trucks travelling the old road during peak times. It can take an additional 15 minutes to make the trip when stuck behind a truck currently. The problem with the proposed idea from yourselves is that it doesnt avoid these sorts of bottlenecks at the viaduct or Schedwys, and leaves in the majority of the black spots where poor drivers crash. good on your for coming up with an alternative, but its not really a workable solution, as it still doesnt fix the traffic conjection issue properly, but the Huill St Intersection plans and the new motorway over time, would

      • “it still doesnt fix the traffic conjection issue properly, but the Huill St Intersection plans and the new motorway over time, would” – Can you please identify any other places in the world that no longer have congestion as a result of building more roads.

      • conan

        The road from the tunnels to Warkworth is 12kms long. How can been stuck behind a truck add 15mins to the trip?

        Maybe we could look at bypassing Warkworth and fixing the Hill Road intersection first and see how that goes before we spend $760m.

        • David

          Conan, on a road like that you can easily add 15mins to a trip behind a truck. Try driving it on day in a car and then in a truck and see what you think about the road then. Trucks on Schedwys hill can easily get down to 20km on a couple of the corners going up and also cross the centreline to get round them, both are traffic hazards that need major work to fix. Yes the Puhoi extension is not the only way, but it does seem a better long term solution as the only way to fix schedways would be a total deviation of the existing hill and coming up thru the valley beside it. This would mean major earthworks to get it to an acceptable gradiant and a complete re-route of a section of the current road. Add to that the top of the hill is very exposed and a danger to trucks in weather like today with the wind and all of a sudden you have added another few mil fixing that section as well.

          • Sorry for the late reply been caught up with work. When you have a number oif trucks that you are stuck behind leaving Warkworth at 6:45ish as I do you can often be caught behind 4 or 5 trucks who will pass each other at the passing lanes, leaving no room or time for anoyone else to get past. I am frequently being held up by a minimum of 5 minutes behind a truck on my way to work almost daily and I’ve tried going at different time but to no avail. The worst was last week with 3 trucks all trying to pass each other at the passing lanes and we ended up crawling up the Pohuehue viaduct at 15kmh, and then going down Schedwys at about 20-30kmh. This is all, can I remind you, in a 100kmh area.
            Then you have the issue of the dick head driver or the unfortunate accident.There was one last week where SH1 was closed for more than an hour, and again tonight there is an accident at the intersection of Mahurangi West Rd and SH1 which has backed traffic up past the tunnels, and from what I’m hearing (still at work) its heading back to Orewa. Sure we can go SH16 but that adds 45 minutes minimum if you dont have other traffic to contend with, and the road to get there through Puhoi and Ahuroa is mainnly gravel which most people wont go past 20kmh on.
            From a residents point of view in Warkworth I would happily pay a toll to use the road, I think the guestimation of $17 per trip is a well over exaggerated though. I just get irritated when it is called the holiday highway as thats not what it is. It would shorten truck delievery times as they take forever to travel the current roads, less time in the car/truck equals less pollution, yeah the road may be flatish and boring but if you are an attentive driver, it makes no difference what the road is like, and if you are concerned with your speed then use cruise control.
            I love the area I live in and I have, to me, the best of both worlds, and with another approx 10,000 houses being planned for Warkworth in the very short future by the councils plans, the existing SH1 will not cut it at all and a new motorway will future proof the locality.
            You do know about the large works going on at the A&P Showgrounds with the Rugby and Soccer pitches, Planned Cricket Oval, hockey turf and the netball courts right? Warkworth is slated by North Harbour Sport to be the hub of sport in the Rodney region, so over the next 5 years we should see a good amount of population growth.

  • john

    I agree, I think a nice straight motorway is a huge wast of money and land,
    It will make the average once a year holiday commute for most of us very boaring, and I find long straight roads to easy to creap over the speed limit so the toll just gets a lil more expensive.
    For the locals well… A nice windy country road is a lot nicer then a congested motorway in Auckland.
    And I bet there are a few who commute from wellsford mangawhai and warkworth to Auckland every day, well maybe you could campaign for decent rail down to Auckland instead.
    Well anyway I think the shirts we call out government should just fund our 70 year overdue CRL so we can stop arguing about it and move on to something else, I think we should put the CMJ central motorway junction (the big ugly thing choking our city) underground and have a nice big park in its place… I’m dreaming, maybe just rail to airport and north shore.

    • I’m all for public transport that will benefit the city, but I dont see the CRL as the silver bullet it is being touted as. Many people who currently use busses, drive when it rains, this will be the same for any train system. Agree that the CMJ is a farce of a system and needs to be fixed. Undergrounding with a park is a nice idea, but no good really for any required future expansion, since the planners only cater for now and not for the years to come.
      The amount of people who commute from up my way south for work every day is quite large. Just look at the traffic jam tonight from the accident to see how many it is. With a realistic toll I would guess 90% of them would choose the new motorway that is planned as it will be quicker and much less stressful to drive.
      I do agree the road as it is is nice to drive, but with the talents of drivers in this country going south fast, anything that looks like a corner seems to confuse them and they fall off the road very easily.

  • Anne

    Looks like it has been approved by the Board of Inquiry

  • I will say this though. While I disagree with you on the benefits of the proposed motorway, you do very good work researching alternatives, and at least bring an intelligent point of view and options to the table. The document you submitted was very well thought out and provided some good alternatives, which has made me think on this topic a little more. I much prefer interacting with people like yourselves on this topic, than the air heads who just dont want it because John Key has a ‘batch’ at Omaha, and refuse to stop calling it the holiday highway

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