Northland's roading network is cracking under a huge strain created by the weather and redirection of traffic volumes.
North of Whangarei, a massive State Highway 1 slip near Hukerenui pushed traffic through a nearby Ruapekapeka Rd detour. A Northern Publishing employee heading north this week drove the Ruapekapeka detour. Traumatised by the experience of highway traffic volumes on a narrow rural metal backroad, she vowed to use an alternative route to get north.
That route - Mangakahia Rd - is about 85km, a similar distance from Whangarei to Kaikohe via SH1.
But it's cracking under the strain of redirected traffic. Which leaves the virtually inconceivable notion to Northlanders of the 190km trip to Kaikohe via driving west on SH12 and then north via SH14. A route that was suggested at the height of the flood-related traffic crisis.
For a long time, I have wondered about the quality of Northland roads. It is a lay person's observation, as a motorist, but I think our roads are of a poorer quality than elsewhere in the North Island.
Drive south, and it is hard to not be impressed by the quality of the road surface, and its appearance.
The latter, I think, has more impact than people realise. It gives you a sense of the region.
Consider this - you're looking at buying a house, do you feel more positive about a home in a residential street with an asphalt-lined professionally curated driveway, or the one with a rough, metal driveway?
Sure, metal driveways have their appeal and charm, but you get the picture?
What does that driveway tell you about the home owner?
Much, I believe. I am a lay person, so I don't know what the answer is. But I think Northlanders have a right to ask some damn hard questions about why our roads aren't as flash as our southern cousins, putting aside the fact the hammering they get from the elements.