A motorway from Auckland to Whangarei has been flagged by Transport Minister Simon Bridges.
Speaking at today's sod turning to mark the start of the $709.5 million Puhoi to Warkworth motorway, Bridges said over time the motorway would extend to Whangarei, a distance of 162km.
Bridges said the Government had pledged to build a four-lane road of national significance from Puhoi to Wellsford and the entire corridor to Whangarei was very important.
The Puhoi to Warkworth motorway extends 18.5km over difficult terrain from the Johnstone Hills tunnels just south of Puhoi to just north of Warkworth.
Critics have nicknamed it the "holiday highway" to the intense annoyance of Northland leaders.
The new motorway will have two lanes in each direction divided by a central median with a safety barrier.
Both Bridges and Rodney MP Mark Mitchell stressed the safety benefits of the new motorway.
The motorway is due for completion in 2021.
Incentives built into the contract will ensure the motorway is one of the safest in New Zealand with lower grades and be more resilient to natural disasters and road closures.
Bridges said a decision had not been made on whether to toll the new Puhoi to Warkworth motorway.
Route protection of the next stage of the motorway from Warkworth to Wellsford is underway. The NZ Transport Agency is planning to release an indicative route early next year.
The Automobile Association is delighted that construction is officially underway on the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway extension.
"Many people from outside Northland don't understand what a vital step forward this is for us," AA Northland District Chairman Steve Westgate said.
"It's not just about safer, quicker and more reliable journeys, it's about the economic opportunities that come with it. This project will improve our connections with Auckland, New Zealand and the world."
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