The National Party has promised to upgrade 10 one-way bridges in Northland as part of its by-election campaign which polls indicate will be a close-run race between National's Mark Osborne and NZ First leader Winston Peters.

Mr Osborne and Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced the six-year programme to upgrade the bridges at Kaeo's one-way bridge this morning.

It is expected to cost between $32 million and $69 million.

The 10 bridges are all on state highways 10, 11 and 12 and include two bridges near Matakohe, one in Taipa, two on the Waimamaku River and the Kaeo bridge.


The timing of the announcement is likely to raise eyebrows. Mr Peters last week used the bridges as an example of the neglect the region faced under National.

Mr Osborne said he had been campaigning on the bridges since being elected, and described the Kaeo one-way bridge as "a ticking time bomb" after a number of serious crashes.

Former Northland MP Mike Sabin had called for upgrades to the one way bridges in Kaeo and Matakohe but to little avail.

The projects were not included in National's transport election policy to fastrack some regional roading projects using a $212 million package from the proceeds of asset sales.

Mr Bridges said the funding for the 10 bridges would mostly come from the National Land Transport Fund.

Mr Bridges said replacing the bridges was logical given the development of the $1.75 billion Puhoi to Wellsford highway, which he expected to boost economic development and tourism. "It is crucial we are ready in Northland for the influx of visitors and business the Puhoi to Wellsford highway will bring."

He said National has spent more than $750 million on state highway and local roading projects across Northland in the last seven years.



The bridges covered in the new announcement are:

* Taipa Bridge on State Highway 10

* Kaeo River Bridge on SH10

* Waihou River (Rangiahua) Bridge on SH1N

* Tirohanga Stream Bridge on SH11

* Taheke Bridge on SH12

* Waimamaku River (Hallahans) Bridge on SH12

* Waimamaku River (Lowes) Bridge on SH12

* Darby and Joan Kauri Bridge on SH12

* Matakohe River (Hardies) Bridge on SH12

* Andersons Bridge on SH12

NZH mb