Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins today officially opened the Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway.
The 18.5 kilometre stretch of motorway was built as a partnership between Waka Kotahi and the Northern Express Group and will open to the public shortly, with finishing works expected to be completed over the next few months.
“Safe and reliable transport links between Auckland and Northland are essential for commuters and business alike, and this motorway goes a long way to securing that,” Mr Hipkins said.
“The recent extreme weather events have highlighted how fragile the Auckland to Northland transport corridor can be, so this is a major step forward in ensuring a reliable connecting to the North.
“The route is vital for the economy. It will provide consistent and reliable travel and better access to markets in Northland and to export ports at Auckland and Tauranga. That’s important for businesses to be able to plan their logistics.”
More than 135,000 vehicles are expected to travel the stretch of road every day, including 1,300 trucks. Commuters are expected to save several minutes in travel times too, the Prime Minister said.
“This is an exciting day for local communities, Northland and the upper North Island. The completion of such a strategic piece of infrastructure is part of our infrastructure plan to ensure our communities prosper and we are more resilient in the face of climate change and extreme weather,” he said.
Associate Transport Minister, Kiri Allan said construction of the “vital piece of infrastructure” had been a mammoth undertaking.
“More than eight million work hours have been completed so far by 7000 workers, and cuttings as deep as 70 metres made, with over 10 million cubic metres of earth moved. That’s one of the largest amounts of dirt ever shifted during a New Zealand roading project,” she said.
“The built-in resilience, including rockfall mesh barriers, huge culverts and smart use of road materials and designs, will reduce surface flooding and avoid rockfalls and reduce the number of occasions where Northland is cut off by extreme weather.
“It supports the Road to Zero strategy, with safety significantly improved by flexible safety barriers and fully-sealed median and shoulder areas.
“The local Warkworth area will also benefit, with the road and related infrastructure to support another 7,300 homes that are expected over the next 20 years,” said Minister Allan.