A Northland senior roading official supports a proposed toll on the $710 million Pūhoi to Warkworth highway, dubbed the "Holiday Highway".
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency last week made a surprise announcement a toll could pay for the construction and maintenance costs of the new highway, which is well under way, and it would be open for public consultation.
The agency wants to charge motorists $2.40 for cars and $4.80 for heavy vehicles - the same as for the Northern Gateway section of State Highway 1 from Orewa to the Johnstones Hill tunnels where the 18.5km Pūhoi to Warkworth highway begins.
There will be a separate toll for each section of SH1 motorway, taking the cost of driving from Orewa to Warkworth to $4.80 for cars and $9.60 for heavy vehicles.
Northland regional transport committee chairman John Bain said tolls were probably the way of the future and improved roading would only benefit the Northland region.
"What it means for Northlanders is another section of highway that gets us safely and quickly to Auckland and the return trip home.
"Tolls will probably be the way of the future. If it means progress on our roads that lead to Northland then that's an advantage," Bain said.
He said when the new highway opened it would have truck drivers travelling between Northland and Auckland jumping with glee as it took out dangerous sections on the current road.
Bain said with each section of road being progressed it was a move closer to getting a four-lane highway south from Whangārei.
"The roads are the lifeblood of Northland for every reason under the sun. We need to progress four lanes all the way to Whangārei as a minimum."
The new road was due to be built by the end of next year, but the agency said this could be pushed back by the Covid-19 pandemic.
By 2026, it is projected the new highway and old SH1 route will cater for 35,000 vehicles a day and shave off 10 minutes on the drive from Auckland to Warkworth.
The tolls announcement caused the Automobile Association to speculate if the Government is trying to claw back money on projects that have already been funded.
AA's principal adviser of infrastructure, Barney Irvine, questioned why tolling was not discussed three or four years ago, saying people are looking forward to the project but finding out it will be tolled will be a kick in the guts.
"Are we going to see tolls on all new highways? If so, that's going to make for a lot of toll roads in the next few years," he said.
Waka Kotahi director of regional relationships Steve Mutton said the existing SH1 will be the free alternative route if the new motorway is tolled.
The agency is also asking for feedback on a proposal to reduce speed limits on some sections from Pūhoi to north of Warkworth.
"The existing state highway has a high crash history and making it safer for all road users is a priority for Waka Kotahi," Mutton said.
Public consultation on tolls and speed limits close on June 15.
New Zealand's other toll roads are theTauranga Eastern Link ($2.10 for cars, $5.20 for heavy vehicles) and Takitimu Drive in Tauranga ($1.90 for cars, $5 for heavy vehicles).
Find out more at: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/about-us/consultations/