New alignment of State Highway 12 will help bridge the gap for Northland
The completion of a project to construct two new bridges coupled with a 2.5km alignment of State Highway 12 through Matakohe will add substantially to the safety and accessibility of the region, believes Northland Inc’s Vaughan Cooper.
The sleek two-lane Matakohe bridges replace the old single-lane constructions, which were recommended for improvement because their existing alignment – a series of tight curves connecting short connections – exacerbated safety concerns.
“It is imperative that we keep upgrading our infrastructure, and the new road alignment through Matakohe will undoubtedly make it a safer, more connected region for our community and for our many visitors, both domestic and international,” said Northland’s acting CEO.
“But, just as importantly, it will help with dispersal. It will encourage and make it far easier for visitors – and investors, too, for that matter – to head north-west and experience this historic area.
“The Twin Coast Discovery Route, which encompasses the ‘Ancient Kauri Trail’, our westernmost journey, is a must see for visitors, and I’ve no doubts this project will significantly contribute to the growth of tourism along the route.”
The Ancient Kauri Trail, which runs from Maungaturoto to the Hokianga, is a journey of vivid contrasts, stretching through farmland, villages, the ruggedly beautiful beaches of the wild and untamed West Coast, to the peaceful shelter and majesty of the towering kauri forests.
The revitalisation of the Twin Coast Discovery Route is an important programme within the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan, which is being facilitated and supported by Northland Inc, the region’s economic development agency.
It is also vital that goods and services are moved efficiently and swiftly through State Highway 12, Mr Cooper added, and this project “will certainly ensure that that happens”.
To mark the conclusion of the $31 million NZ Transport Agency-led project today (Friday), Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones planted a Kauri tree overlooking the site. “It’s appropriate to plant Kauri on this day and in this place – to bring together the old and the new,” he said.
Mr Jones was also quick to commend the contribution and assistance of local iwi, Te Uri o Hau, who had the honour of providing names for the two new bridges.
Te Piringatahi Bridge – which replaces the old Hardies Bridge – means “bringing together as one”. It is 191 metres long and stands 15 metres above the Matakohe River; it opened to traffic in April 2019.
Te Ao Marama Hou, the second bridge, which effectively translates to “moving from the past into the future”, spans the Parerau Stream and replaces Anderson Bridge. It is 54.8m in length and opened in February this year.