Ribbon cut on Wellington's new Northern motorway
"You can't beat the smell of fresh tarmac, can you?"
That was the New Zealand Transport Agency group manager of highways Tommy Parker's response to the opening of the Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway north of Wellington, four months ahead of schedule.
The $630m, 18-kilometre four-lane expressway is part of the northern corridor from Wellington Airport to Levin and is one of the Government's seven roads of significance.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the road will improve safety, resilience and efficiency with wider economic benefits.
In all, 5000 road workers have contributed to building the expressway.
Local MP Nathan Guy said it will connect the local communities and the benefits will be immense in terms of productivity and safety.
It's already been dubbed the Sandhills Expressway, according to Kapiti Deputy Mayor Janet Holborow.
She acknowledged all those who've lost their homes and businesses to make way for the expressway.
Mr Guy said 12 hectares of wetlands have been enhanced and 1.4 million mostly locally sourced plants have been planted.
It also has 16 kilometres of walking and cycle tracks; 600 contractors have worked on the project.
Once the 110km northern corridor is complete it's expected it'll save 40 minutes of travel time.
There'll be a community day on the new road on Saturday, with the road opening to traffic later this month.