The NZ Transport Agency says it is deferring the start of work to upgrade State Highway 1 at Central Avenue in Whangarei.
This means the planned removal of 11 mature trees at Mander Park so that the highways can be widened and intersections improved will also be deferred.
The NZTA's Principal Project Manager for the Northern Corridor, Brett Gliddon, says the project is still waiting for funding. Even if that funding was approved immediately, adverse winter weather means there would be no guarantee that the NZTA could start and finish the project before the Rugby World Cup.
"There is a need to keep the state highway network in the best possible condition during the world cup to ensure fans have as smooth a journey as possible to and from matches," says Mr Gliddon.
"Our construction season finishes in May before the onset of winter rains, and we are acutely aware what the weather can do in terms of getting the job done before the world cup."
Mr Gliddon says it is the intention of the NZTA to start the project, including the removal of the Mander Park trees, as soon as it is practical. The NZTA was given permission by a planning commissioner earlier this year to remove the 11 trees.
With the deferral; the NZTA says it is now considering whether to give priority to an upgrade of the intersection of State Highways 1 and 14 before Central Avenue.
"In terms of traffic volumes, access to the city hospital, and the intersection’s pivotal role as a transport link, it does make sense to start the SH1/14 improvements first," says Mr Gliddon.
The NZTA says it is still waiting for consent approvals from local authorities and construction at SH1/14 will not start before winter. Funding also has to be approved for the project.
"The NZTA is committed to completing all these projects to ease congestion and improve safety, and we will be starting work as soon as it is possible to do so," Mr Gliddon says.
Mr Gliddon adds that construction of Stage 2 of the Kamo by-pass is on track and is due to be completed at the end of the year.
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