Danielle Williamson’s well informed article on the proposed Puhoi to Wellsford motorway concluded that, mainly for reasons of road safety, the 35km stretch of road should be divided into a “proper motorway”.
However, doing so would be extraordinarily costly and technically challenging. Just the first section alone, between Puhoi and Warkworth, will not be completed for at least nine years, even if it were tolled.
We need to objectively consider the best use of an apparent budget of $2.3bn, rather than adopt an all-or-nothing approach.
For instance, the worst of the accident black spots could be upgraded to a higher standard far sooner than nine years from now. A Warkworth bypass could be built, perhaps to an expressway standard. The rail line to Northland could be repaired so that it is once again capable of carrying freight in a timely manner, reducing the number of large trucks on SH1.
It would be prudent to at least consider these alternatives, especially considering the likelihood of higher petrol prices in the next few years.