The article quoting Judith Collins regarding the road north and Matt King's opinion piece in Tuesday's Age (February 13) are timely.
The road from Auckland to Whangarei is a disgrace. To call it State Highway 1 is a mockery of the English language. It and it alone has formed the major impediment to development in Northland.
The opening of the Johnson Hill tunnel extension has just moved the blockage one step further, as will the Warkworth section. The winding, hilly terrain makes the road north one of the most dangerous roads in the country, and this continues all the way to and over the Brynderwyn Range. There is brief respite across the Waipu/Ruakaka plains, until you reach the Oakleigh to Whangarei road.
This section is nothing short of a death trap, as is evidenced by the number of accidents. It is rough, poorly designed, with odd cambers, rapid changes and dangerous intersections.
The building of a four-lane highway linking all the way from Auckland to Whangarei is all that is needed to set Northland alight with development. The building of the road and the investment needed for that and the considerable employment resulting would be a kick start.
Once the road is built, just take your hands off and watch Northland fly. Nothing else would be needed. Northland has so many natural advantages that have been stifled by the lack of a decent highway.
The towns north of Whangarei would benefit from the natural spread of activity, and in time may justify extension north. But for now, get it done to Whangarei.
Major earth-moving equipment needs to be brought in, as do companies with expertise in major roading projects, so this road can be built in a few years instead of the decades it would take with existing equipment and companies.
The route needs to be identified immediately and the corridor secured. Any other major road works planned must be with this highway in mind, so money and time are not wasted.
For this and other major projects the only sensible way to pay for it is with tolls, not just for the new highways but for the existing ones too. Why should the road north be tolled and not south? Driving through Europe, all the cities are linked by motorways, and they are tolled. How utterly sensible. Those using them pay….why not?
Rail cannot do the same, and to upgrade the rail line instead of a four-lane highway would consign Northland to a bleak future. Rail just does not have the necessary flexibility to contribute in the way that the four-lane highway from Whangarei to Auckland will.
The expansion of North Port into a container port needs rail. But rail will not solve Northland's problems.
The development of Northland needs that four-lane highway from Whangarei to Auckland. I say again, build that highway, and then take your hands off and watch Northland fly.