With the smell of new road seal lingering in the air, Transport Minister Simon Bridges cut a ribbon this morning to mark the completion of the four-lane 18km Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway, north of Wellington.
"We are right now on the best road in New Zealand," he declared.
He had lost count of the number of people who had come up to him during his travels saying they had wanted the road for a long time.
"One elderly gentleman told me yesterday that he had been wanting this since he was a young man, and he thought it was a fable, but today the fable becomes reality, and it's very exciting to see."
His message to the Kapiti community was: "This [expressway] is going to be better than you think.
"It's going to be a road that you are going to love and you are going to benefit from each and every day."
Otaki MP Nathan Guy, who helped cut the ribbon, said he had backed the project since it was first mooted.
"I've had constituents in my office in Paraparaumu in tears because they were losing their property... and then a few years later I've had the odd phone call from those people saying 'Nathan I'm sorry we were so tough on you, we believe this project is the right decision for this region and our community'."
He said, "I want to thank our community for living the vision but for being so patient as well."
Kapiti deputy mayor Janet Holborow said the project had a been a journey for the Kapiti community and "at times a hard road".
"Strong passionate initial resistance from some parts of our community has led, I believe, to this project setting new standards in community engagement and collaboration."
Project manager John Palm said, "We hope everyone enjoys using the expressway as much as we have enjoyed building it."