At the request of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the Advocate last Friday gave to Northland MP Willow-Jean Prime a list of roads you, our readers, say are the worst in the region.
Prime told us the responses were very general, it would be difficult to pinpoint exactly where the problems are.
Some might say that's a little disingenuous. Was that making excuses before the Prime Minister, Transport Minister Michael Wood – or Waka Kotahi – had even seen the list?
While we accept that some of the road suggestions were a little vague - Whangārei
to Auckland or SH1 north of Warkworth – others were quite specific, including:
• SH1 through Pakaraka, Moerewa and Turntable Hill
• SH1 around Towai and Waiomio
• Waikaramu Rd, Waimate North
• Russell Rd, Rawhiti Rd, and Manaoroa Rd to Russell
• Maunu Rd from city centre to Hospital Rd lights
We included some of the less-specific suggestions simply to illustrate to the Prime Minister the depth of community feeling on this issue.
We received more than 50 emails and hundreds of Facebook suggestions.
To be clear, not all the roads come under the Government's purview, some are the councils' responsibility.
Since last year we have been running regular stories about our appalling roads. The potholes, corrugations, lack of seal, the resulting cracked windscreens, not to mention the narrow and dangerous stretches of roads and one-lane bridges we must all negotiate every day.
We have spoken to commuters, truckies, tourism operators, ex-roading contractors, people travelling for medical appointments or family visits, and they all say the same thing: fix our roads.
Most serious of all, even our emergency service people are fed up. As one ambulance driver tells the Advocate today: "The poor patient is lying there with a serious fracture or they're seriously sick ... sometimes they scream out saying 'what are you doing'? But we can't help it, we're doing our best."
To be fair there have been significant improvements – such as the roundabouts at Kawakawa and Puketona Junction, and the Loop Rd roundabout south of Whangārei - but they're not enough.
We in Northland are sick of being political pawns. A case in point: the on-again, off-again four-laning south of Whangārei.
Only last week National's shadow treasurer Andrew Bayly, once again, promised to resume the plan to build the four-lane highway from Whangārei to Port Marsden Highway.
But you know what, we are over it. People are dying and being injured on our roads. And many of us are having to deal with multiple cracked windscreens or the numerous other wear-and-tear costs of travelling our roads.
As editor, I travel frequently between Whangārei and Auckland, or to visit our teams as far north as Kaitaia. Yes, the road to Auckland can be a nightmare (let's blame some of that on Auckland), but in my past half-dozen trips to Kaitaia I have become increasingly incensed that the main road to the Far North, also our country's No.1 state highway, is a treacherous mess.
Michael Wood, we invite you (again) to come to Northland and drive some of the worst roads our region can throw at you.
Northlanders and our roads have been neglected for too long. Prime Minister, please don't wait until election year to come and make promises to fix things, Northlanders will see through that.
Today's Advocate recalls a tale from 1917 – 104 years ago - when a Parliamentary tour came to the region to look at the state of the roads. Of the 33-odd vehicles that left Auckland, only 10 made it back in one piece.
Now this would be funny if it weren't for the fact that here we are, more than 100 years later, asking for the Government to come and experience our roads and do something about them.