The election is over, the promises made and now there's the need to deliver. It's strange how the need to rebuild the economy as a consequence of the pandemic has got mixed up in the normal language of a general election.
One project though, which seems to have finally got to the line with all parties agreeing, is four-laning the highway from Whangārei to Port Marsden.
NZTA has recently invited feedback about route options for the rural section of the proposed highway as well as general feedback about what should happen in the urban section.
The preamble to the consultation indicates this 22km project is "part of the New Zealand Upgrade Programme's $6.1 billion investment to save lives, get regions moving and boost productivity in key growth areas".
It is curious that the public had only a three-week period for route and roadside feedback on this major project that has been years in the making. Feedback closed last Friday October 23.
The AA Northland District Council was one party specifically invited for comment and Steve Westgate quickly set about gathering the range of views about what could/should happen.
It seemed to us that the rural route choice should be the domain of the technical experts. Two options were presented. One is shorter and goes over relatively low ecological value tidal flats, while the other is longer and involves more rural land.
No relative costs or cost/benefit analysis accompanies the consultation document. The choice of options should be made pragmatically around safety, efficiency, geotechnical issues, benefit/cost ratios and practicality rather than seeking to protect limited environmental values.
It is the urban section between Tarewa Rd and Toetoe Rd which is of most interest and where the greatest opportunities lie. This is where wider consultation is needed with residents, business people and council, rather than just the three weeks afforded at this stage.
The proposed road needs to be future proofed to take account of not just how traffic moves over it now, but how it will accommodate current and likely future development for at least the next 20 years.
There are several obvious areas of interest.
Firstly - how best to allow for access into the iSite and NorthTec and, importantly, is there a long-term commitment from both organisations to remain at their current locations and enhance the services currently provided?
Secondly - the Otaika Shopping Centre. This is already a controversial and dangerous stretch of road with difficult pedestrian and vehicle access. To widen the road here would likely take out shopping centre carparks compromising the viability of the shopping centre and maybe the medical centre opposite.
It seems sensible to create a new supermarket/shopping centre at this end of town. Some years ago a new shopping centre was proposed for land opposite South End Ave. Perhaps its time has come with this major roading development.
Finally - in the South End Ave, Tauroa St and Rewarewa Rd area we have a dog's breakfast of intersections which are continually accident prone.
When the residential and industrial developments at South End Ave were approved, part of the deal was that the developers would contribute to the intersection upgrade. Further commercial, industrial and residential development is inevitable in this area and it is time for that intersection upgrade.
Northland AA suggests Tauroa St exit should be closed and a new major roundabout developed at South End Ave. This would receive diverted Tauroa St traffic and accommodate the current and future developments in the South End–Raumanga area for many years to come. This all depends, though, on a future focused, co-operative approach.
This project is not just about replacing sticks with four lanes. It is also a major opportunity to provide for the current needs and future development at the south end of Whangārei city.
• John Williamson is chairman of Roadsafe Northland and Northland Road Safety Trust, a former national councillor for NZ Automobile Association and former Whangārei District Council member.