One roundabout coming right up
Work to build a roundabout at one of the Far North’s most loathed intersections is due to begin by the middle of this year.
The Waipapa Rd-State Highway 10 intersection near Kerikeri is infamous for its congestion and risk, and has been the subject of lobbying by councils and local residents for close to 30 years.
The delays had looked set to continue, but a grant of up to $9 million from the government’s Provincial Growth Fund has bumped it up the NZTA’s to-do list.
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said at a site blessing by hapu¯ Nga¯ti Rehia last week that the roundabout, which had “suffered the gestation of some sort of dinosaur,” was the first roading project to benefit from the PGF, which would be used to speed up some vital roading projects and “get some of the more egregious cases of road failure fixed up.”
Nine million dollars was a “stupendous amount” for a Northland roading project though, and he urged contractors to “sharpen their pencils” and deliver well within budget.
An emotional Ann Court, who began campaigning for the roundabout 29 years ago, long before she became a district councillor, said motorists would no longer have to risk their lives running the gauntlet of the intersection or get stuck for long periods at 5pm.
The roundabout had gone close to being built 10 years ago, until a new government with different priorities was elected, the lesson being that if something was important, “you stick at it, you never give up.”
Raewyn Bleakley (NZTA) said roading consultants Opus had begun detailed design work for the roundabout in November, with surveying and geotechnical testing carried out in December.
A preferred contractor would be named by the end of March, with “enabling works,” such as moving underground utilities, beginning mid-year.
The completion date had yet to be confirmed; the NZTA still had to buy some land before the project could proceed.
“It’s about safety, but it’s more than that. It’s also about community and economic development,” Ms Bleakley said.