15 Feb 2018

Govt urged to confirm Northland's SH1 upgrade

7:34 pm on 15 February 2018

Northland needs certainty about the future of State Highway 1 to Auckland, a community leader says.

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Photo: RNZ / Lois Williams

Northland Regional Council chairman Bill Shepherd was alarmed by recent headlines suggesting the government was pouring cold water on the previous government's plans for a four-lane highway.

Since then he had met Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Waitangi and written to the Transport Minister Phil Twyford, stressing the importance of the upgrade to Northland.

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones had ruled out investing in the four-lane highway from the provincial growth fund, Mr Shepherd said.

"But we were never expecting the funding would come from that - the expectation was the funding would come through the usual Transport Agency sources."

Mr Shepherd said as far as he knew the four-lane highway plan was still on and the top priority for NZTA was the dangerous stretch of road between Whangarei and the Marsden Point turnoff.

Consultation with the community had begun over that project but the uncertainty was creating some angst and it would be good to have the government's intentions spelled out, he said.

"Some clarity would provide reassurance for businesses and business development in the region, and also for landowners on the proposed highway corridors."

Mr Shepherd said the highway to Auckland carried 99 percent of the freight to and from Northland and was the region's economic artery.

"For any government that's serious about developing the economy of the region, providing a better transport link for that major part of our exports and imports must be a key part of the network," Mr Shepherd said.

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