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Transport Minister Simon Bridges has announced that the NZ Transport Agency is working to ensure significant improvements to a section of State Highway 1 between Whangarei and Port Marsden Highway are completed as quickly as possible, with construction planned to start by 2019.

Mr Bridges says 22km of state highway will be upgraded to four lanes, with the section between Oakleigh and Port Marsden Highway expected to be completed within 3 to 5 years, followed by an upgrade between Whangarei and Oakleigh, to be finished in 5 to 7 years. Timeframes are subject to investigations, consenting and purchases of the necessary property.

“The Government and the NZ Transport Agency recognise the importance of securing the safety and resilience of this key road corridor for the future prosperity of the Northland,” Mr Bridges says.

“Upgrading this section of highway to four lanes and separating traffic will significantly reduce the high number of fatal and serious injury crashes in the area, many of which involve drivers crossing the centre line and colliding with oncoming traffic. It will also provide a more reliable and resilient connection to the port.

“More than 3 million tonnes of freight is exported from Northport each year and improving the regions freight connections to key export markets will be a game changer for the wider Northland economy,” Mr Bridges says.

The improvements will also help support growth south of Whangarei where there are significant opportunities for industrial development and housing.

The Whangarei to Port Marsden Highway upgrade is expected to cost an estimated $400 to $500 million and is part of the wider corridor between Auckland and Whangarei.

“Ultimately we’re planning a significant upgrade of the highway all the way from Whangarei to Auckland which will include the completion of the Puhoi to Wellsford Road of National Significance which will make journeys along this entire corridor safer and more efficient,” Mr Bridges says.

The Transport Agency will work with Iwi, local communities and key stakeholders as the project moves through the planning and construction phase.

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