Motorists will not have to pay to use a new motorway between Pūhoi and Warkworth when it opens next year.
Transport Minister Michael Wood has declined NZTA’s proposal to make the new Ara Tūhono – Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway a toll road.
There was strong community opposition to the tolling proposal with 80 per cent of those impacted against it, Wood said.
“I’ve listened and this was a factor that led me to decline the proposal.”
The new project, estimated to cost $877.5m, would extend the four-lane Northern Motorway (SH1) by 18.5km, from the Johnstone’s Hill tunnels to just north of Warkworth.
It has been labelled the “holiday highway”, due to the number of Aucklanders with bolt hole baches in places like Omaha and Mangawhai.
“As is the case with all new sections of state highway, Waka Kotahi assessed the potential for tolling the Ara Tūhono – Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway,” Wood said.
“This included consultation last year to gather feedback from the public and key stakeholder groups.”
If a fee was applied to the Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway, motorists would have been forced to pay two tolls as the Northern Gateway was already a toll road between Silverdale and Ōrewa with no southbound exit prior to the Northern Gateway.
“Tolling is a useful tool that can help fund the construction and maintenance of new roads or significant upgrades to existing roads, so it warrants investigating, but it’s important there are adequate alternatives for drivers,” Wood said
The Ara Tūhono – Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway is due to open next year after being delayed several months.
It was due to open at the end of last year but lockdown in April delayed development.
The new planned opening date is mid-May 2022.
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