21 Jul 2020

Northland roading and flooding protection projects get funding boost

12:01 pm on 21 July 2020

Following flooding in Northland, the government has announced funding for flood resilience and critical roading in the region.

A car drives through flooding in Northland on 18 July.

Photo: RNZ / Sarah Robson

After months of near-crippling drought more than 200mm of rain fell in Northland over 10 hours from Friday night.

To help combat future flooding events in Northland, the government has announced $12.5 million has been set aside through the infrastructure package under the Covid Response and Recovery Fund.

The money was approved by Cabinet as a part the $210 million global allocation announced last month for flood protection projects nationwide.

It comes from the tagged contingency set aside for infrastructure in Budget 2020.

"Along with helping to deal with the impact of the flooding, we're investing in infrastructure now to address some of the long-term challenges the New Zealand economy faces, while stimulating economic activity as we recover and rebuild from Covid-19," Finance Minister Grant Robertson said.

Work includes river benching and setting back stopbanks, flood wall protection and constructing bypass spillways to divert water away in times of crisis.

"Our regional leaders know which parts of Northland are particularly vulnerable to flooding events. As my officials engage with the regional council, it is important that Whangārei, our largest city, and its concerns are addressed," Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones said.

"I realise work has already started on flood issues in Awanui and North Hokianga. Obviously the urgency has grown after the recent destructive flood. I have been assured by the councils this work is definitely shovel-ready and represents an opportunity for rapid action."

Jones says $14.2 million from the Provincial Growth Fund would also be made available for roading projects.

Weekend storms closed more than a dozen roads, and far more are affected.

Flood damage to SH1 at Mangamuka Gorge, Northland.

Flood damage to SH1 at Mangamuka Gorge, Northland. Photo: NZTA

Far North Deputy Mayor Ann Court said it would take months, possibly years, to fix everything.

Officials have been instructed to expedite all contracting with Far North District Council.

"Far North District Council has been struggling to upgrade, widen and correct road quality. I've no doubt the community will be relieved that this grant can address drainage, slip repairs, bridge improvements and other overdue matters," Jones said.

Jones said he will report back to Cabinet what emergency relief funds may be needed because of the flooding.

The government yesterday announced $30,000 would be granted to a mayoral relief fund in the region to help.

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