2009: A Pioneering Segment of New Zealand’s Highway System is Opened to Traffic

January 25, 2009

The pioneering Northern Gateway Toll Road in the Auckland Region of New Zealand’s North Island was opened to traffic. The route, which encompasses 4.4 miles (seven kilometers) between the town of Orewa and the settlement of Puhoi, is a segment of the Auckland Northern Motorway. This motorway, now measuring 24 miles (38 kilometers) altogether, had made its debut nearly a half-century earlier and has been a key link in the portion of the highway system serving New Zealand’s most heavily populated and economically prosperous area.

The Auckland Northern Motorway, in turn, is part of New Zealand’s State Highway (SH 1). SH 1 is that country’s longest highway. It covers 672 miles (1,081 kilometers) on North Island and 592 miles (952 kilometers) on South Island. The various sections of this highway are identified on road signs as a white number 1 on a red shield.

The Northern Gateway Toll Road was part of a larger northern extension of the Auckland Northern Motorway between the Auckland suburb of Albany and Puhoi. This extension began during the late 1990s and has been collectively known as the Albany to Puhoi Realignment (ALPURT); the Northern Gateway Toll Road was officially designated ALPURT B2.

The Northern Gateway Toll Road proved to be tough to build. According to a 2008 report issued by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), “It is one of the most challenging roading projects ever undertaken in New Zealand, due to the very steep topography.”

Along with being the northernmost section of the Auckland Northern Motorway, the Northern Gateway Toll Road was the first road in all of New Zealand to use a fully electronic toll collection system. The Northern Gateway Toll Road was also the first new route to fall under the authority of NZTA. This agency, which oversees New Zealand’s national highway network, was formally established about six months before the Northern Gateway Toll Road opened. NZTA brought together within one government agency the various highway administration responsibilities previously handled by both Land Transport New Zealand and Transit New Zealand.  

A dedication ceremony was held for the Northern Gateway Toll Road on the day before it was opened to traffic. The public officials on hand for this ceremony included Steven Joyce, New Zealand’s minister of transport.

Joyce said to those in attendance, “It is a pleasure to be here and I am looking forward to tomorrow when traffic will be able to travel for the first time on what is the largest single roading project undertaken in this country to date . . . I want to thank everyone who has been involved in this project, the designers, the engineers, the heavy equipment drivers, NZTA, everyone involved — and that includes the local communities. This has been a long and complicated project and I know the benefits of your hard work — and patience — will be very significant.”

Image Credit: Public Domain

For more information on the Northern Gateway Toll Road and other sections of the Auckland Northern Motorway, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auckland_Northern_Motorway

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