The NZ Transport Agency is pleased to announce that it has given its conditional support to changing the designation of a key Northland freight route to a state highway.
The Northland Inland Freight Route is vital for the region’s economy as an important link between the forestry industry, wood processing plants and the bulk export port at NorthPort.
The NZ Transport Agency has now approved its plans to change the designation of Te Pua Road, Mangakahia Road, Otaika Valley Road and Loop Road, which have until now been designated Arterial local routes, to become a state highway.
Once collaboration with Northland councils has been agreed and approval received from the Secretary of Transport the NZ Transport Agency will provide all funding for the operation and maintenance of the state highway.
The route provides the most efficient and effective route for trucks to access around 50,000 hectares of production forest.
“Regional authorities and industry in Northland have been strongly advocating for this route to be classified as a state highway because it accesses an area of significant economic activity both regionally and nationally,” says Ernst Zöllner the NZ Transport Agency’s Regional Director for Northland and Auckland.
“The NZ Transport Agency acknowledges the growth potential of the forestry and wood processing industries in Northland and this decision shows our level of commitment to providing a package of investment and development across the region’s roads.”
Northland Regional Council chairman Bill Shepherd says he is thrilled with today’s announcement on behalf of the entire region and appreciates Northland’s collective call for an elevation in the route’s status has found a receptive ear.
“While there are obviously some details still to be worked through, giving it State Highway status is key to our goal of a fit-for-purpose and resilient heavy transport route into the Far North in particular.”
Ernst Zöllner says the change in designation will provide three strong routes up and down the region and will help the NZ Transport Agency to better manage the strategic roading network, balancing tourists, cars and heavy traffic.
“This will create a more resilient network across the Northland region, through improved journey management, better emergency responses, improved resilience to things such as landslips as well as improved cost effectiveness in road maintenance.”
“We look forward to working in collaboration with Northland councils and other stakeholders to make this part of a wider package of investment to provide an integrated network and build on the economic growth opportunities for the Northland region.”
The NZ Transport Agency will now be working closely with the local councils to facilitate the handover of the road. It will also formally seek the consent of the Secretary of Transport for the change in designation, which is expected to take between four and six months.