National Road Carriers has welcomed the road safety improvements announced for Northland but shares the disappointment of councils in the region that more is not being done.
“The improvements to the SH 1 and SH 15 intersection just south of Whangarei can’t come soon enough,” said NRC CEO David Aitken.
“But like all the councils we would have liked to see more progress on the upgrade of SH 1 to four lanes, particularly between Whangarei and the turn-off to Northport and Marsden Point.”
Aitken said that portion of the main highway already carried a lot of daily commuter traffic, which is only going to increase with the ramping up of the forestry industry and the export of more timber through Northport.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford told representatives of the Whangarei District Council, Far North District Council, Kaipara District Council, Northland Regional Council and the Regional Transport Committee last week that a four-lane highway was off the agenda.
They had met Twyford in Wellington in an effort to keep the previous Government’s announced plans on track.
Under the new Government’s 10-year transport plan announced recently, more funding would go into rail and public transport and less into the upgrading of main highways. Additional funding is being made available for improvements to regional roads.
Aitken said there had to be a commitment to make the main highway south of Whangarei safer for all road users, with more passing lanes and other infrastructure to handle the increasing amount of traffic.
“Hopefully funding allocated for regional roads will include funding for safety improvements on SH1 and other state highways in the region,” said Aitken.
The Government has already announced the notoriously dangerous junction of SH 1 and SH 15 will be upgraded, with a single lane roundabout and other work to improve safety.
NRC has been strongly advocating for this roundabout, but say it needs to be two lanes, given the volume of traffic using the intersection.