Press Release – New Zealand Transport Agency
The NZ Transport Agency has been left in no doubt about the need for access to and from the proposed Puhoi to Wellsford motorway for the Waiwera, Puhoi and Mahurangi West communities and tourism zone.Motorway Access Demanded by Communities and Council
The NZ Transport Agency has been left in no doubt about the need for access to and from the proposed Puhoi to Wellsford motorway for the Waiwera, Puhoi and Mahurangi West communities and tourism zone.
The Agency’s northern regional director, Wayne Macdonald, today heard from local community leaders that 98% of residents polled demanded the Agency re-think its initial proposal that there be no access on the new route south of Warkworth.
Mr Macdonald was attending a meeting brokered by Rodney’s mayor, Penny Webster, which included as well as the community leaders, local MP Hon. Lockwood Smith and ARC Rodney representative Christine Rose.
Mrs Webster said her council supported fully the communities’ view that access was essential for the entire district’s economic future and for the safety of road users.
Several representatives echoed the stance with one saying the lack of access would “kill the town and potentially kill us if we are forced to again use the old (Waiwera) route.”
Representing the ARC, Christine Rose said the regional council supported the concept of an improved northern route but was still to be convinced that it should be any more than an improvement to the existing State Highway 1 route. She suggested that more time and consultation was needed.
In what appeared to be a direct contradiction to that, Dr Lockwood Smith made an impassioned plea to fast-track the process.
Pointing to the proposed time-line, which would not see the motorway completed before 2022, he said the Transport Agency should be working to shave at least three years off the construction period.
“Let this community be in no doubt of my commitment to this project and my intent to act as their representative to get it finished, and meeting the community’s needs.
“This is a Government project and the Government wants it completed.”
In response Mr Macdonald says that the meeting along with earlier public meetings were just the start of the consultation process.
“Nothing yet was hard and fast, he said. “These projects always evolve and they take their shape from community input.”
In a last agreement, ending the meeting, Mayor Webster gained a commitment from Mr Macdonald to extend the period for submissions on the access issue by a further two weeks.
“Given the passion exhibited here today and the logic of the (access) argument, it’s the least the Agency can do. And I am glad they have done it,” she says.
Mrs Webster says she is also willing to organise a community reference group to ensure the community voice continues to be heard throughout the Agency’s deliberations.