A petition with 1500 signatures, a personal plea and the support of Kaipara District bosses have added weight to Susan Reyland's call for two single-laned bridges at Matakohe to be widened.
Ms Reyland spoke in support of her private submission as well as a collective one at yesterday's hearing for the Draft Regional Land Transport Plan, 2015-2021.
She wants the two bridges, Andersons and Hardies, realigned and double-laned. Ms Reyland's campaign began in 2012 after she and her daughter Krystal were among three people seriously injured in a crash on Andersons Bridge. Ms Reyland described the road as "a death trap", with 18 corners on a short stretch of highway either side of the bridges and visibility problems due to mangroves and roadside trees. Fog sitting over the estuarine environment creates another hazard.
"The bridges were built in the 1930s and are not suitable for modern traffic. What we Kaipara residents are expected to drive on ... in the 21st Century is a disgrace ..."
While locals claim there have been 10 road deaths and many serious accidents there since the 1960s, New Zealand Transport Agency figures have it at only five crashes. Coupled with less than 1800 vehicle movements a day, the job has in the past met low funding criteria compared to the bridge replacement costs of around $20 million. Late last year Northland's regional transport committee voted to include the bridges as one of the region's priority projects in the draft road transport plan. When approved in final form that plan, with its recommendations and requests, will go to NZTA for consideration.
At yesterday's hearing at Northland Regional Council's Whangarei office, Kaipara commissioner Peter Winder and roading manager Henri van Zyl said the project had long been tagged as that district's number one highway priority. But as it was a highway and outside its jurisdiction, Mr Winder said the council could only support and add to the call for improvements.
The hearings will continue today, with the committee deliberating on the submissions later in the day.