Bridges are back on the agenda for the National Party in Northland — but not the infamous "10 bridges" or even former leader Simon Bridges.
Instead, MP Matt King is pledging that a National Government, if elected, would start work on replacing one-lane bridges at Kaeo and Rangiahua in its first term of office.
King made the promise during a public meeting at Kerikeri Sports Complex on Monday, which was attended by the party's deputy leader Gerry Brownlee.
The Northland MP acknowledged planning was already under way for a new two-lane bridge at Kaeo but said that was only because National had earlier made it an election pledge.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
The current Government had no plans to replace the one-lane Rangiahua Bridge between Okaihau and Mangamuka, despite it being a chokepoint on State Highway 1, he said.
Funding for both would come from the $31 billion National had earmarked for transport over 10 years.
In 2015, during the Northland byelection, then Transport Minister Simon Bridges pledged to replace 10 one-way bridges in the region at a cost of $69 million.
The pledge was widely ridiculed when it became apparent that one of the bridges slated for replacement was not a bridge at all but a narrow section of road between two kauri trees in Waipoua Forest. Some of the other bridges on SH14 were real but had little traffic.
King, however, said the "10 bridges" controversy overlooked the fact that the three most critical one-way bridges — two at Matakohe and one at Taipa — had been replaced with modern two-lane bridges.
Some of the west coast bridges in the "10 bridges" plan didn't have the traffic to justify replacement but upgrading Rangiahua Bridge was ''a no-brainer''.
The one-lane Tirohanga Bridge, on SH11 just east of Kawakawa, would likely become a chokepoint in future and would also need replacing eventually. That was much smaller than the other bridges so would cost considerably less.