There is no question that State Highway 1 in Northland is dangerous in parts and it will still be improved, Transport Minister Phil Twyford says.
"It is an economic lifeline for the North and the road is dangerous in parts and needs a lot of work done on it. There's no question about that. We talked about the road in detail. Work will continue on State Highway 1. It must be improved and it will," Twyford said today.
A delegation of Northland mayors and officials are disappointed after being told by Twyford at a meeting at his office in Wellington that he could not promise to improve the highway to four lanes with a median barrier.
Bill Shepherd, chairman of Northland Regional Council, along with Whangarei District Council Mayor Sheryl Mai, Far North District Council Mayor John Carter, Kaipara Mayor Jason Smith, Regional Transport Committee chairman John Bain, and WDC CEO Rob Furlong in his role as chairman of the Northland Transportation Alliance met the Minister last week.
Shepherd said they wanted to express concern over the direction the Government was taking on their roading strategy and heading away from four-lane highways.
"He was clear he could not promise us a four-lane highway under the government priorities. We're disappointed about that."
Twyford said it was not his place as Minister to decide on particular roading projects.
"Operational decisions about the priority and timing of projects are made at arm's length of the Government by the New Zealand Transport Agency board."
"There will be safety improvements made to State Highway 1 including more passing lanes, pull-over bays, upgraded intersections, median and side barriers, and maybe even four lanes in some places. NZTA will make the best decisions on this work," he said.
Last week the Government announced a notoriously dangerous intersection on State Highway 1 just south of Whangarei would get a roundabout and other work designed to improve road safety.
Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones announced the safety improvements to the Loop Rd intersection of SH1 and SH15.