Work to build a roundabout at one of the North's most loathed intersections is due to begin by the middle of this year.
The Waipapa Rd-State Highway 10 intersection near Kerikeri is infamous for its congestion and risk, and has been the subject of lobbying by councils and local residents for close to 30 years.
The delays had looked set to continue even longer but a grant of up to $9 million from the coalition government's Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) has bumped it up the NZ Transport Agency's to-do list.
During a site blessing by local hapū Ngāti Rehia on January 9, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said the Waipapa roundabout, which had ''suffered the gestation of some sort of dinosaur'', was the first roading project to benefit from the billion-dollar-a-year fund.
The idea was to use the PGF to speed up some vital roading projects and ''get some of the more egregious cases of road failure fixed up''.
Jones said $9m was a ''stupendous amount'' for a Northland roading project so he urged contractors to ''sharpen their pencils'' and deliver well within budget.
An emotional Ann Court, who started campaigning for the roundabout 29 years ago, long before she became a district councillor, said motorists would no longer have to risk their lives running the gauntlet of the intersection or get stuck for long periods at 5pm.
The roundabout came close to being built 10 years ago but a new government was elected with different priorities.
The lesson was that if you believed something was important ''you stick at it, you never give up''.
Raewyn Bleakley, an NZ Transport Agency general manager, said roading consultants Opus had started detailed design work for the roundabout in November, with surveying and geotechnical testing carried out in December.
A preferred contractor would be named by the end of March with ''enabling works'' such as moving underground utilities starting in mid-2019.
The completion date had yet to be confirmed. NZTA still had to buy some land before the project could go ahead.
''It's about safety, but it's more than that. It's also about community and economic development,'' Bleakley said.
The site was blessed by Ngāti Rehia kaumatua Arena Munro. Several other hapū were represented as was Ngāpuhi chairman Sonny Tau.
Jones said the next roading project to be funded by the PGF would be a roundabout at the Loop Rd junction of SH1 and SH15 south of Whangārei. The Loop Rd intersection was also notoriously unsafe and heavily used by logging trucks.
That project is due to begin in February or March this year and be completed in 2020.