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NZTA's preferred route for Warkworth motorway

NZTA media release: 27 April 2012

The NZ Transport Agency(NZTA) has announced the preferred route to build a new motorway between Puhoi and Warkworth, just north of Auckland.

The new route will form part of the Puhoi to Wellsford road of national significance (RoNS), aimed at improving safety, reliability and journey times on State Highway 1 (SH1) for freight, tourism and motorists.

As the main road link for the freight industry, the new route will better connect Northland to the markets of Auckland and the central North Island to stimulate economic growth in Northland and the Upper North Island.

NZTA State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker, says the agency’s traffic modelling shows that the average number of vehicles travelling between Puhoi and Warkworth each day is expected to increase from an average of 19,700 in 2012 to Puhoi and Warkworth to 31,300 per day in 2026.

“Drivers will make significant time savings on an Auckland-Whangarei journey in 2026 when the Puhoi to Warkworth section of the RoNS is operating, and these time savings are expected to be greater for heavy vehicles carrying freight.

“A divided motorway with a central median barrier will also greatly improve safety, eliminating the kind of head-on collisions which have claimed four lives on this stretch of highway since 2006.”

Mr Parker says detailed work to develop the next phase of the project has been progressing well, incorporating community feedback on the indicative route provided last year.  

The Map above (courtesty NZTA) is the route proposed and is similar to the indicative route announced last year. Some alterations had been made as a result of community and stakeholder feedback. More details are available at the NZTA website   or please click on the map above for a bigger view of the proposed route.

Mr Parker says the NZTA is committed to ongoing engagement with the community and property owners as the project moves forward.

“We appreciate that property owners potentially affected by the project have been waiting to see the preferred route so that they can plan ahead. At times, the wait has been understandably frustrating, and we thank them for their patience.”

Staff from NZTA have been visiting and speaking with property owners affected by the preferred route. A 3D simulation of the preferred route is also available to view on the project website.

Public information days are planned to answer questions and view a plan of the preferred route:

• Tuesday 1 May: 4pm – 7.30pm, Old Masonic Hall, Baxter Street, Warkworth

• Thursday 3 May: 4pm – 7.30pm, Puhoi Sports Club, Puhoi Domain, Puhoi

• Saturday 5 May: 10am – 2pm, Shoesmith Hall, Shoesmith Street, Warkworth

Mr Parker says an indicative route for the Warkworth-Wellsford RoNS section is not being announced at this time and a start date for construction has not been established.

“We are currently reviewing options for this section of the RoNS as part of a long term plan up to 2050 that will identify improvements for SH1 between Auckland and Northland. While our preferred option remains a separate, four-lane, off-line motorway between Warkworth and Wellsford, we are considering this alongside potential on-line projects to improve safety at locations with a high crash rate in the Brynderwyns and the Dome Valley,” says Mr Parker.

Key Facts 

Improving reliability, safety and journey times

• 2012 traffic modelling shows an average 19,700 vehicles travel SH1 per day between Puhoi and Warkworth

• 2026 modelling estimates this will rise to 31,300 vehicles per day using both the new RoNS and the former SH1

• Time savings are expected to be greater for freight due to reductions in grades and better road geometry, which helps heavy vehicles maintain a higher average speed along the route

• Five fatal crashes have occurred between Puhoi and Warkworth in the past five years, from 2006 - 2010, four of which were head-on collisions. 

• A divided motorway with a central median barrier and improved road geometry will greatly improve safety

Property

• Around 50 properties are affected by the preferred route between Puhoi-Warkworth

• This is a decrease of around 10 properties affected by the previous indicative route

• Property purchase will be on a case-by-case basis as funding allows and may continue up to and beyond 2014

Economics

• Estimated costs for the Puhoi-Wellsford project are $760m for Puhoi-Warkworth and in the order of $1b for the Warkworth-Wellsford section

• The Puhoi-Warkworth section has a BCR (Benefit Cost Ratio) of 1.5 and the overall Puhoi-Wellsford project has a BCR of 1.0