A lack of footpaths or cycleways along sections of Hibiscus Coast Highway has been brought to the attention of Auckland Transport (AT) for years, but so far nothing has been done.
The issue is of particular concern to residents of 24 houses on the highway, in Silverdale, who have a risky journey on foot to their local shops, which, depending where they are going, may include walking on the highway itself or dashing across it.
The route takes residents along the highway from Titan Place to the Whangaparāoa Road intersection, or in the other direction towards Silverdale Street.
Seventy-three-year-old Lorraine Sampson, who has impaired vision, prefers to walk for her health, especially to nearby places such as the medical centre or shops – a journey she makes around four times a week.
For most of the route between her house and the pedestrian crossing at the Whangaparāoa Road/Hibiscus Coast Highway intersection, there is no footpath on either side.
“People walk on the road, the grass berm or on my driveway,” she says.
There is a short section of path, a few steep unstable steps made by frustrated residents, and another section put in by Council because the land was subsiding.
Lorraine must also run across the slipway that exits Whangaparāoa Road. She is used to being tooted there as cars rush past at 70kph.
Lorraine has been asking for a footpath from AT, Auckland Council, councillors and the local board for years. There have been various ideas and AT representatives have taken a look, but nothing has happened.
She also points out that the bus stop on the highway near Titan Place is unsafe – with no footpath, passengers step out virtually straight onto the highway.
“I’ve lived here for 50 years and have seen the highway get busier and busier with no improvements in pedestrian infrastructure,” she says. She says the underpass linking the village with the industrial side of Silverdale is unsafe for lone walkers.
Recent moves by AT to build a footpath on the Millwater side (between Silverdale Street and Millwater Parkway) were halted due to “technical difficulties caused by topographical and geotechnical constraints”, which put the project over budget.
Most walkers heading from Titan Place towards Silverdale Village shops run across the highway by the BP station to the median and then across the other two lanes.
Lorraine says pedestrian triggered lights are needed there, or at Silverdale Street. She has been told that lights and a crossing at Silverdale Street are not envisaged until Penlink is built – this is expected to lower traffic volumes on the highway, so that the speed limit can be reduced and a crossing put in.
AT spokesperson Josh McConnell says AT recognises there is a gap in the footpath provision.
“Due to limited funding for footpaths and the high level of requests, we prioritise based on land use (connection to schools, public transport, town centres, etc), safety, connectivity and constructability,” he says. “Unfortunately this footpath request is not currently on our list for construction in the near future.”
“We pay rates like everyone else and all I’m asking for is to be able to safely walk from my house to my local shops,” Lorraine says.