40 minutes to drive 2.3km
Truckies claim industry losing $50,000 a day
Roadworks south of Whangarei causing lengthy delays for motorists and truckies - estimated to be costing the industry $50,000 a day - could all be over by Monday.
Assurance has been given by the NZ Transport Agency following numerous complaints to the Northern Advocate about roadworks around the intersection of SH1 and Portland Rd, and on SH1 at Ruakaka, causing traffic standstill and delays of over an hour for round trips.
NZTA regional journey manager Jacqui Hori-Hoult says the agency is aware of the time delays and is working with contractors to get the Portland Rd works completed by March 31.
Ann Picketts contacted the Advocate after it took her over an hour to travel from Waipu to Whangarei on Wednesday, when it normally takes less than 30 minutes.
"The traffic was backed up from Portland Rd to the Oakleigh gas station," she said. "It's just ridiculous."
Wayne Ballantine commented on the Advocate Facebook page that it took him 40 minutes from the Maungakaramea turn-off to the northern part of Loop Rd, a distance of about 2.3km.
And local truckie Craig Turner, the former director of the Road Transport Forum New Zealand and owner of Whangarei-based Turners Transport, has pinned the cost of the delays to be around $50,000 a day for the trucking industry.
"It's an extra hour each load, so it affects us three hours a day [doing three loads a day]. We are restricted on hours we can work, so sometimes we miss out on loads," he said. "I estimate it costs roughly $50,000 a day for all trucks, which is quite a lot."
Ms Hori-Hoult said NZTA regrets any delays and is working with contractors to keep disruption to a minimum.
"This is planned maintenance work to replace the SH1 pavement or surface and provide a smoother journey for all road users.
"The upgrade began three weeks ago at the beginning of March, and NZTA hopes to have all major works completed by this Monday," she said.
Mr Turner suggested that NZTA could have utilised Loop Rd as a detour, and only worked on one lane of SH1 at a time.
Ms Hori-Hoult said the NZTA did consider this. "All options were investigated," she said.
"The Transport Agency considers its preferred option to be the safest for all road users in the area."
Meanwhile, motorists travelling on State Highway 1 south of Whangarei will have to allow even more time for their journey from this weekend, as the NZTA is closing the highway overnight on the Brynderwyn Hills for maintenance work.
SH1 over the Brynderwyns will be closed in both directions from 6.45pm, and will reopen the next morning at 5am, from Sunday through to April 3.
Southbound traffic will be diverted through Waipu and Mangawhai, and northbound traffic will be diverted via Paparoa/Oakleigh, adding 30-45 minutes.
Further information is available by contacting the Transport Agency's Northland help desk on 0800 111655 or 0800 4 Highways.