SH1 at the Brynderwyn Hills has been closed numerous times due to severe weather and slips forcing motorists to detour around Mangawhai and Waipū.
The Government’s announcement of $44 million to repair some of Northland’s storm-damaged state highways and vital detour routes has been welcomed by the region’s leaders and roading experts.
But “much more” funding was needed to
address the “critical failure” of Northland’s roading network for Far North, Whangārei and Kaipara residents to prosper and thrive, they said.
Government funding of up to $44m for Northland for immediate works on state highways affected by severe weather was announced on Monday.
This includes $32m for improvements to SH1 Brynderwyn Hills to Dome Valley and SH12 Brynderwyn Hills to Kaikohe.
It also includes $4m for Cove Rd – which runs between Waipū and Mangawhai – and Paparoa Oakleigh Rd, which are both used as detour routes for motorists when the Brynderwyns have been repeatedly closed.
AA Northland District Council chairwoman Tracey Rissetto said she appreciated the “quick response from the Government to make Northland more resilient”.
But $107m alone was needed to get the two main SH1 Brynderwyn detour routes up to scratch, highlighted in a recent Northland Transportation Alliance report, she said.
“We all came to clearly understand during and after the storms, that our state highway network isn’t resilient.
“$44m is never enough but it’s a great start and something we’ll definitely take.
“Our whole infrastructure is in a bit of a crisis.”
The funding comes from the Government’s $6 billion national resilience plan announced in May’s Budget.
The Northland works would be undertaken in the next two years and include clearing overslips and rockfall, stabilisation, under-slip repairs, building and repairing retaining walls, drainage clearing and repairs, and pavement and seal repairs.
Whangārei Mayor Vince Cocurullo said the funding was “never enough”.
“We know the Brynderwyns alone is going to cost in excess of $100 million. Mangamuka is costing $100 million.
“If it’s just state highways … it’s nothing major, it’s more of a temporary fix. It’s nice but it’s not a long-term fix.
“Maintenance-wise it’s a good step but it’s not the final step.”
Far North Mayor Moko Tepania said “any and all funding that we can dip into to address the critical failure of our important roading lifelines is definitely welcomed”.
“We are going to need much more across not only our state highways but also our local networks to reconnect Northland and provide safe and resilient roading that Far Northlanders need to thrive.”
Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis and Northland MP Willow-Jean Prime welcomed the funding.
“This is a welcome and much-needed boost for repairing our roading infrastructure here in Northland, and will help us build back better from the severe weather events our region has faced,” Davis said.
Prime said now that “most links” into cyclone and flood-affected areas were open, “it is the time to make these roads safer and more resilient to future weather events”.
“This extra funding will improve the road surface on major stretches of road where potholes and cracks left after the weather events have made travel slow and frustrating.”
The investment was on top of the $525m already provided to Waka Kotahi in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone, and the $210m to local road repairs across affected regions, Prime said.
But apart from state highways, Cocurullo said around $260m was also needed to fix local roads in the region.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what the other party is going to offer.
“We need work at the Brynderwyns, Dome Valley, Mangamuka Gorge, and the rail line which has been disconnected since February and won’t be up and running for another year.
“We need the four-lane expressway from Northland to Auckland.
“That’s what’s desperately needed more than anything else.
“At the end of the day, it’s about getting Northland up and running.”
On Monday, National unveiled a $24 billion transport policy focused mainly on roads.
This included building four-lane highways from Whangārei to Tauranga at a cost of $6 billion.
The four-lane highways include Whangārei to Port Marsden – $1.3b and to start in the next one to three years – and Warkworth to Wellsford – $2.2b and to start in the next four to 10 years.
National’s Whangārei-based MP Dr Shane Reti said the party would also prioritise an alternative or improved Brynderwyn Hills Bypass route.
“Whangārei to Port Marsden is a major economic route for the movement of freight, but the current road is busy, with nearly 9000 vehicles travelling on it every day, and is considered the most dangerous in Northland.
“National will also prioritise the construction of an alternative or improved Brynderwyn Bypass in Northland when in Government.”
The National Road Carriers Association [NRC] applauded the National Party’s focus on the essentials of building and maintaining the roading network, and road resilience.
NRC chief executive Justin Tighe-Umbers said the proposed spending on a four-lane highway between Tauranga, Auckland and Whangārei “made sense because the region represents nearly half of the country’s GDP”.
“We need to get roading back to a place where the freight industry can efficiently and effectively deliver goods and services for the benefit of citizens and our export economy,” he said.
Jenny Ling is a news reporter and features writer for the Northern Advocate. She has a special interest in covering roading, health, business and animal welfare issues.
Road funding fix
SH1 Brynderwyn Hills to Dome Valley – $14m
SH12 Brynderwyn Hills to Kaikohe – $18m
SH14 Whangārei to Dargaville – $3m
SH15 Toki under-slip – $4m
SH10 Awanui to SH1 – $1m
Cove Road – $2m
Paparoa Oakleigh Road – $2m