The latest news is that the so-called “Holiday Highway” from Puhoi to Warkworth is approved. It’s certainly true that there is sometimes a bottleneck, but there are problems all along SH1 north of Auckland. Is the expense of three quarters of a billion dollars justified on one short section? You will find various opinions on the webpages to which we link here and here. However, I consider that the cutting off of the Far North (and that includes the Bay of Islands) after the recent storms, due to the lack of robust roading, is of far more importance. It’s rather like comparing a car which won’t go into top gear with one whose wheels have fallen off. Many think that three quarters of a billion dollars could be better spent. There are cheaper alternatives to the present Puhoi/Warkworth scheme, and much more of SH1 needs upgrading.

In July 2014 Northland suffered some extreme weather: very heavy rainfall and strong gales, which caused slips, washouts and flooding. Many roads were impassable: State Highway 1 was closed for most of a week, and then Mangakahia Road was hammered by heavy traffic and had to be closed. As a result the sensitive and narrow State Highway 12 through the Waipoua Forest was subjected to streams of heavy trucks, many with trailers, which it was not designed to carry. It cannot be straightened or widened without removing many ancient kauri.

Is it sensible to depend only on this section of the present State Highway 1, given that like most Northland roads it is built on unstable soil and liable to slips?

Mangakahia Road is lightly built and in parts it is twisting. However, it is more or less central, leading from Kaikohe to just west of Whangarei (see the schematic). It cannot be upgraded by Council because of the impact on rates, and it should immediately be changed to State Highway status and Government funded.

Many Northland roads were constructed as cheaply as possible, with single-lane bridges and insufficient attention paid to the possibility of flooding.  This has proved to be false economy, of course, and has cost more in the long run. The increase in logging traffic has emphasized this.

If you inspect the schematic and the Google map on the next two pages you will see the value of upgrading MANGAKAHIA ROAD to State Highway standards (which are even then not as robust as they should be!) so that it becomes a viable alternative to State Highway 1 in case of slips and washouts. There are several single lane bridges to be rebuilt, the road to be widened and straightened, and rendered fit for heavy traffic. This will cost a great deal, but is more valuable to the North than the projected so-called “Holiday Highway” which is mainly for the benefit of Aucklanders.

Without reliable roading:

This is something you can ask all political hopefuls and candidates for local office:

WILL YOU SUPPORT TURNING MANGAKAHIA ROAD INTO A STATE HIGHWAY?

   (and that isn’t all: what about the frequent flooding of SH12 at Taheke?? The bridge there is single lane, but widening it would not solve the flooding problem. SH1 just north of Kawakawa also floods. We could mention other places…)

 NORTHLAND NEEDS BETTER ROADS

  

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Holiday Highway or Reliable Roads?