Iwi have officially blessed Northland’s newest state highway, State Highway 15, which runs along a key freight route for the region.
The NZ Transport Agency took over the operation and maintenance of the 96km of roads including Te Pua Road, Mangakahia Road, Otaika Valley Road and Loop Road in August.
The Transport Agency’s Regional Director for Northland and Auckland, Ernst Zӧllner, says improving the inland freight route will create a stronger link between the forestry industry and the port which is vital to the region’s economy.
“Mangakahia Road is culturally and historically significant to iwi, which is why it’s so important to have them involved in work to improve the route for local communities as well.”
The Transport Agency’s work with iwi along Mangakahia Road has resulted in new road signs being installed to identify communities along the route.
“This will also help to connect visitors to Northland’s rich natural beauty and heritage, supporting economic growth across the region.”
Since August, the Transport Agency has been working to bring the roads up to state highway standard through improved litter removal, drainage and vegetation clearance. Communities along the state highway can also look forward to better road maintenance, line markings and improvements to road safety.
“The new State Highway 15 sits within our Connecting Northland strategy, which includes transport improvements across the Northland road network. Some of these wider improvements will provide a direct benefit to State Highway 15, in particular the upgrade of the Loop Road intersection,” says Mr Zӧllner.
“In addition, the Northland Transportation Alliance will be delivering an integrated approach to transport improvements for the region, bringing together transport and roading staff from all the northern councils.”
Northland Regional Transport Committee chairman and regional councillor John Bain says the declaration of State Highway 15 marks a significant point in the history of the inland route.
“We are committed to seeing transport enable a strong economy in Northland. The creation of State Highway 15 has been a great outcome for the communities that surround it, and for everyone who travels over it, providing an increasingly safe, resilient route through inland Northland.”
“Together with the creation of the Northland Transportation Alliance, we are seeing a better way of working together. We’ll have safe and resilient transport connections for freight and more connected communities and visitors as a result.”