Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has today opened the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway north of Auckland, with motorists being able to drive on it in the coming days.
The 18.5km route, which begins just after the Johnstones Hill Tunnels and bypasses Warkworth, is said to cut around 11 minutes off travelers’ journey times.
It will also alleviate the State Highway 1 bottleneck at Hill Street intersection in the town during busy periods like summer as holidaymakers make their way north or south.
Around 135,000 vehicles are expected to use the road every day, including 1300 trucks.
The motorway will also support 7300 new homes that are expected to be built in the area over the next 20 years.
Further growth around Warkworth will also see the upgrading of local roads, a new rapid transit corridor, bus routes and 25km of new walking and cycling paths.
“The route is vital for the economy. It will provide consistent and reliable travel and better access to markets in Northland and to export ports at Auckland and Tauranga. That’s important for businesses to be able to plan their logistics,” says Hipkins.
The project kicked off in 2016 and was originally supposed to open in 2022, but got pushed back to this year due to Covid-19 delays.
Waka Kotahi says that non-critical finishing works will be undertaken over the next few months while motorists are still able to use it.
Over 8 million hours of work conducted by 7000 workers has gone into constructing the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway at an estimated cost of $877.5 million.
The project saw cuts up to 70 metres deep be made and the removal of 10 million cubic metres of earth.
“This is an exciting day for local communities, Northland and the upper North Island. The completion of such a strategic piece of infrastructure is part of our infrastructure plan to ensure our communities prosper and we are more resilient in the face of climate change and extreme weather,” Hipkins added.