The official start to construction is now underway on the Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway, the first stage of the Ara Tūhono -- Puhoi to Wellsford Road of National Significance. The first sod has been turned today on the road which will provide more reliable travel times, a better freight connection between Northland and the rest of the Upper North Island freight triangle of Auckland, Waikato and Tauranga, and support inter-regional and national economic growth. The Pūhoi to Warkworth project is a PPP (Private Public Partnership), which The Northern Express Group (NX2) will deliver on behalf of the NZ Transport Agency for the New Zealand Government.
The project, which is one of the Government’s Roads of National Significance will be open for traffic by late 2021. The $709.5 million project will extend the four-lane Northern Motorway (SH1) 18.5km from the northern end of the Northern Gateway Toll Road (NGTR) at the Johnstone’s Hill Tunnels, to State Highway 1 (SH1) south of the Kaipara Flats Road intersection, north of Warkworth.
The motorway will traverse land to the west of SH1 and bypass Warkworth on the western side. It will comprise a four-lane dual carriageway (two lanes on each side) divided by a central median with a safety barrier. NX2 Chief Executive, Ray Wilson says they are excited to be underway on construction of the the motorway, which will be one of the safest in New Zealand with lower grades that will lead to a safer drive for motorists and will be more resilient to natural disasters and closures. “Time savings are expected to be greater for freight due to the reductions in grades and a better road layout, which helps heavy vehicles maintain a higher average speed along the route.” It will also improve connectivity between the growth areas in the northern Rodney area and alleviate congestion in Warkworth by providing a bypass for through traffic, while increasing travel time consistency. “Drivers will experience a truly scenic trip. Driving between majestic cut slopes of Pakiri sedimentary rock which towers up to 50 metres high will give a sense of penetrating through the rock face,” says Mr Wilson.
The road will be curvilinear (following a curved pathway) without long straights. It will follow the natural contours of the land as much as possible. This will add to the scenic drive with views over the landscape in places and in other sections the road will go through forested areas, rather than being above the tree canopy. Low plantings on the sides of the roads will enhance the scenic view. The NX2 Consortium brings together companies with considerable experience in the design, construction, finance, maintenance and management of key infrastructure projects in New Zealand and overseas.
NX2’s equity investors are the Accident Compensation Corporation and Public Infrastructure Partners II LP (managed by Morrison & Co PIP Limited), ACCIONA Concesiones and Fletcher Building. NX2’s design and construction joint venture involves ACCIONA Infrastructure and Fletcher Construction, and the asset management and maintenance joint venture will involve ACCIONA Concesiones and Higgins.