TRANSPORT

Safety first for State Highway 1

Thursday 12 August 2010, 10:32AM
By Auckland Regional Council
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AUCKLAND

The ARC believes improving the road safety of State Highway 1 between Puhoi and Wellsford should be the NZTA's immediate priority.

Increasing safety and reliability between Puhoi and Wellsford needs to be the New Zealand Transport Authority’s (NZTA) immediate priority, not a new motorway the Auckland Regional Council (ARC) confirmed today.

The ARC’s Transport and Urban Development Committee remains unconvinced of the need for a new motorway and is asking the NZTA to introduce more pressing safety improvements, and to consider wider traffic impacts when looking at access options for its planned state highway development.

“The safety record on State Highway 1, between Puhoi and Wellsford, is tragic and costly with lives lost, harm done and delays encountered. Safety should be the most significant consideration in the NZTA’s planning,” says Councillor Christine Rose, chair of the committee.

“We believe the NZTA should be addressing these safety concerns in the short term before it redevelops State Highway 1 as an off-line motorway.

“Residents of Puhoi, Mahurangi and Wellsford are also seeking assurance that local access will not be severed by the NZTA’s plans to redevelop the state highway.

“We have heard how access is vital for these communities to thrive economically. Local industry is dependent on travellers stopping and supporting local businesses, the growing number of cottage industries and tourist attractions.

“As a region we cannot afford to isolate Auckland’s smaller rural communities or provide poorer levels of access than is currently provided.

“If the NZTA continues its plans for the new motorway, we support maintaining access to the communities of Puhoi, Mahurangi and Wellsford, and the wider Rodney district. However, we want to see more in-depth analysis from the NZTA before it commits to its new motorway.”

The ARC is appealing for the NZTA to genuinely consult with local communities and the new Auckland Council when it is established later this year.

“Open consultation is essential once there is adequate detail on the different access options and the potential impacts. The NZTA must allow the community and other stakeholders to meaningfully engage on these issues,” says Cr Rose.

The committee is asking the NZTA to evaluate the planned motorway with bypasses of Warkworth and Wellsford, against selected safety and reliability improvements to the existing state highway.

“Our message is clear – safety must be NZTA’s top priority when it comes to State Highway 1,” says Cr Rose.

“Lives must be saved through a timely and cost effective response to the current safety and reliability challenges.

“We are confident that immediate improvements can be made between Puhoi and Wellsford to enhance safety and reliability now, without the cost of building a new motorway.”