Sunday, September 12, 2010
Owen McShane: No Access Ramps between Orewa and Warkworth
It seems remarkable that some Smart Growth documents generated by Councils that will be soon be non-existent should determine such an inefficient use of this proposed major road, which should surely be enabled to deliver its benefits to the economy in return for the invested costs. These "Growth Centre" decisions by the ARGS Smart Growth planners are the reason there are no plans for any entry or exit ramps between Orewa and Warkworth. That's about 25 km – without any chance to enter or leave the motorway. This must be a world first for such a rural highway through such attractive scenery.
Orewa is about 37 km north of Auckland City.
The ramps at Drury are about 36 km south of Auckland City. The access ramps as Drury and Ramarama are only 6km apart; the Ramarama and Bombay (Mill Rd) ramps are only 7 km apart; the Mill Road and Beaver Road ramps are only 2.0km apart. The total length of motorway for these three sets of ramps is only 15km; an average distance between ramps of only 5km.
Similar distances between ramps in peripheral rural areas appear to be the norm in California (See Highway 101 around Chualar and Gonazeles) and Texas. (see Highway 45 around Madisonville.)
Can we, in New Zealand, really afford to build a motorway which denies access to any settlement for 25 km? Is this an efficient use of our limited financial resources?
Look at what this means in daily life.
If the people in Puhoi want to use the safe speedy motorway to drive to Warkworth they have to drive back through Waiwera and Hatfield's Beach to Orewa, and then East to the motorway – a backward drive of 15.5 km. Then they can drive the 20km to Warkworth – a total of say 35 km for what should be a 16 km trip. Obviously they will continue to use SH1 which will take them to Warkworth and will gain no benefit from the new motorway.
Similarly they will have to drive back 16 km North to Warkworth or detour through Wairera, Hatfields Beach, and Orewa and back to the interchange to gain access to the Motorway to drive to Auckland. This is why the residents of Puhoi want to retain their easy access to the Tunnel which only 2km up the road.
Is this the most efficient way to get their cheese to market?
However, if the 1000 residents of Puhoi want this access they will have to abandon their opposition to development anywhere else between the tunnel and Warkworth. They will have to learn to share the ramps with people from Mahurangi, Pukapuka, and Jamieson Bay.
If the plan is to keep all the countryside between the tunnel and Warkworth exclusively for sheep and cattle the present plan will work. But why would we want to do that?
New economic activity driven by improved access and connectivity can take some time to emerge following construction of a major motorway of this kind. However, there could be a huge amount of economic activity triggered by a simple change of NZTA and Council policies once the decision is made to build the Motorway to complement the existing State Highway one.
There are hundreds, or probably thousands, of properties with either direct frontage to SH 1, or with access to SH1 from minor side roads. Many of the owners of these properties have had plans for new activities, or new residential developments, or simple extensions and additions to their existing business – farming, horticulture, food processing, health spas, bed and breakfast, motor home parks, farm-stays, industrial estates, or whatever.
However, when they go to apply for a resource consent they are always referred to the NZ Transit Agency if their proposal will generate any extra traffic load on the highway. Their proposal is either rejected or the costs of providing the waiting/turning lanes and the massive street crossings are too high for the project to sustain. So they go on hold.
Consequently, if by the end of the year Government announced its determination to build the New Highway to the North it should make a second announcement that all NZTA restrictions on access to State Highway 1 were now waived and such matters of access now rested entirely with the territorial local authorities. Those councils would develop the appropriate engineering standards or planning rules with NZTA but NZTA would be removed from deciding on applications.
A thousand flowers would immediately bloom.
at 9:41 PM