Construction of a two-way bridge first promised more than six years ago is getting started.
During the 2015 Northland by-election, the then Transport Minister Simon Bridges used Kāeo Bridge as the backdrop for National's announcement of the now infamous 10 Bridges pledge.
Some of the other two-way bridges have been built since then at Taipā and Matakohe but the Kāeo project seemed mired in a series of false starts and delays.
This week, however, work is due to get under way on the first phase of the $40 million project.
The new Kāeo Bridge will be twice the width and length and will be located just south of the current crossing.
A roundabout at the intersection of State Highway 10 and Whangaroa Rd will improve traffic flow and safety, as will smoothing out the sharp corner on the Kāeo side of the bridge.
Visibility at the intersection will also be improved.
Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, along with local iwi, Waka Kotahi and council representatives, officially launched the project on Friday with a sod-turning ceremony.
Earthworks are due to start this week with construction ramping up in 2022.
Waka Kotahi infrastructure delivery manager Mark Kinvig said the two-lane bridge would reduce bottlenecks at the junction, making travel more efficient for all road users including freight.
Temporary safety measures, in the form of vehicle-activated traffic lights, would be installed to ease confusion around the current bridge's one-way system.
That would even out wait times and allow drivers to safely navigate on-coming traffic, Kinvig said.
The new bridge would be the same height as the current one but at 110m would be twice the length to avoid any adverse upstream impacts on the township.
"This area is extremely low-lying and we know it's prone to flooding during heavy rains. By not increasing the height of the road we won't create a dam, and doubling the length will allow a larger volume of water to flow underneath it," he said.
"We know the bridge has been a big focal point for the community and we are really pleased to now be in a position to start work, following delays caused by budget constraints and Covid-19."
The project was funded through the National Land Transport Fund and is due to be completed in 2024. The old bridge would then be demolished.