Will they ever finish that section of motorway? When will those extra lanes be open? Why is construction taking so long? Transport Reporter Bernard Orsman takes a look at the progress of some of our biggest motorway projects.
State Highway 1 to Northland has become a political game of who holds the purse strings.
The election of a Labour-led Government with the Green Party on board has seen the cancellation of National's "Roads of National Significance" in favour of road safety improvements to reduce the number of road deaths and serious injuries.
For motorists driving north on SH1 this has meant a new road from Warkworth to Wellsford has gone on ice. In its place, work has started on $30m of safety improvements along the dangerous stretch of road through Dome Valley.
Every region has its black spots with scalloped skid marks, dotted with white crosses. Just north of Warkworth, up a narrow windy hill, it's Dome Valley, known as the "Killing Fields". Since 2000 it has claimed 36 lives and left 102 people with serious injuries.
Just before Christmas, Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter held a media conference at Dome Valley to announce flexible median and side barriers will be installed to prevent head-on crashes and collisions with poles, trees or ditches. The road shoulders will be widened and intersections improved.
The work will be finished in 2021.
Ian Davis, chief fire officer with the Warkworth Volunteer Fire Brigade, has attended crashes in Dome Valley for 30 years. He supported the safety improvements but would like to see a new four-lane highway built along a new route from Warkworth to Wellsford that bypasses Dome Valley.
Genter says the highway will cost $1.6 billion to deliver 25km of safe road. For that money, the Government will make 870km of safety improvements to highways, and a similar length of local roads.
The NZ Transport Agency produced an indicative route in 2017 for the Warkworth to Wellsford leg, passing west of Wellsford, crossing SH1 just south of Wellsford, then passing east of Wellsford and Te Hana before rejoining SH1 north of Mangawhai Rd.
The 'Killing Fields' of Dome Valley to be made safer
The straighter road was expected to reduce deaths and serious injuries by 80 per cent, and won the backing of the National Road Carriers and Northland leaders, who view SH1 as the region's economic lifeline.
The project is in the investigation phase with the lodging of designation and consents planned for mid this year. NZTA is taking steps to protect land required for the new highway, but construction remains at least 10 years away.
National transport spokesman Paul Goldsmith said the party had committed to building a highly engineered, four-lane highway from Auckland to Whangārei in stages, saying most people in Northland saw this as the single most important issue for the economic development of the region.
Goldsmith said the Government has no plan to reduce the pressure on areas of growth on the state highway network, saying the Green Party and Twyford had an ideological view of not investing in roads at all.
Instead, the Government was investing in projects like light rail - or modern trams - down Dominion Rd in Auckland "for a marginal improvement in public transport at colossal cost", he said.
The Government's position on the road north leaves Pūhoi to Warkworth, a new 18.5km stretch of SH1, the last new leg of SH1 under the Labour-NZ First-Green coalition.
Since the turning of the first sod in a paddock outside Warkworth in December 2016, the highway, officially named Ara Tuhono, has progressed well from the Johnstone's Hill tunnels just south of Pūhoi to just south of the Kaipara Flat Rd, north of Warkworth.
The long, hot summer has been a godsend to shift 4 million cubic metres of rock and soil at a crucial point in the project, being undertaken in a public private partnership (PPP) between NZTA and the Northern Express Group joint venture between Fletcher and Spanish construction firm Acciona, known as NX2.
During the first earthworks in the 2018-2019 summer, 1 million cu m of material was moved by the group.
In total, 7m cu m of fill is expected to be dug, of which 5m cu m will be used as fill. Seven new bridges will be built and there will be a significant planning programme of native vegetation to replace 162ha of felling, much of that pine trees.
Under the PPP, NZ2 will finance, design, construct, manage and maintain the new stretch of SH1 for 25 years after it is completed towards the end of 2021.
The new road, derided by critics as a "holiday highway" for Aucklanders driving to beach homes at Omaha, is seen by others as ensuring better and safer access through Warkworth and further north.
Warkworth Business Association deputy chairman Mark Mackey said the new highway to Warkworth will bring huge benefits to the town and surrounding area, which is forecast to grow from a population of 4500 to more than 25,000 over the next 25 years.
It will benefit businesses and people looking to move to Warkworth, where the price of new homes start at $700,000. It will also shave about 10 minutes off the drive between Warkworth and Auckland where the current drive takes 35 minutes to one hour, depending on traffic, he said.
Warkworth resident Kit Johnston said the new highway will make a massive difference, being a lot safer, cut out sections of windy road and allow traffic to travel at 100km/h.
With the highway extending just north of Warkworth, Johnston said it would also see an end to an average wait of five to 10 minutes getting out of his local street, saying one occasion he waited 43 minutes to get out of Shoesmith St.
Separate to the motorway project, Auckland Transport is due to start work later this year on a $63m Matakana link road to improve the infamous Hill St intersection bottleneck. It will initially be a two-lane road, but widened to four lanes costing an extra $16m as traffic demand grows.
SH1 to Northland: Progress report
Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway: A new 18.5km motorway started in 2016 and due to be completed in 2021 at a cost of $710m.
Dome Valley safety improvements: $30m worth of safety improvements along 15km of SH1 between Dome Valley and Wellsford. Work started this summer and is due to be finished in 2021.
Warkworth to Wellsford motorway: This new motorway is in the investigation stage with an indicative route. Construction is at least 10 years away.
Auckland and Waikato's $3.2 billion motorway programme
Auckland's daily misery
The long battle for a road to the North
Tomorrow: Future Projects