West Auckland's 'Highway to Hell': NZ's worst stretch of road?

Nineteen months ago a major roadworks project began in the west Auckland suburb of Te Atatu.

Residents and business owners on Te Atatu Rd have had to endure a noisy, ugly and disruptive nightmare that is quite literally on their front doors.

Paul Richards owns the local gym, Club Physical.  He claims to have lost 20 percent of his business and has had to let go staff since the concrete was first ripped up in 2015.

He thinks the roadworks are taking so long due to a lack of roadworks staff, especially in 2016. 

"Every member of the public that we spoke to had the same comment that there's no one working. Some days you'd drive down there you couldn't see any orange coats, no one working."

Auckland Transport declined to be interviewed, and instead sent Newshub a statement attributed to spokesman Mark Hannan, saying: "There is no delay to the project.

"Construction began in August 2015 and was projected to take up to 24 months to complete.

"It is very likely that it will be completed by mid-2017, several months ahead of schedule.

"This is a measure and value contract awarded for a fixed price. Higgins tendered to undertake all of the project for an agreed price.

"There is no benefit to Higgins to drag the job out – the longer it runs the less profit they can make. The sooner they can finish, the greater the financial benefit and the sooner they can release resources to start another contract somewhere else.

"This also means that Higgins will have had as many contractors and sub-contractors on site as possible.

"The various tasks that need to be completed before the road can be widened, need to be done in a strict sequence. Construction staff have been working their way along the road to complete these tasks before going on to do the next tasks in sequence."

Mr Richards says the Te Atatu locals have had enough.

"Everyone complains, everyone, hundreds and hundreds complain. They all say it's taking too long, there's not enough work, why aren't they doing something, why didn't they plan it better?"

Workers are constantly shifting road cones and motorists are often not sure which lane they should be driving in. Newshub filmed the aftermath of a nose-to-tail accident in the short time that we were on site, and locals told us such accidents happen often.

Older residents with limited mobility are struggling to get around on the ripped up footpaths, while almost every property has a deep ditch, unfinished concrete pour or earth-moving vehicle on its front yard or driveway.

So how much longer will it have to be endured?

"We've got no idea," says Mr Richards. "We saw August mentioned at one stage, August this year, so that would mean two years' loss of income. 

"There is a bit of confusion with the general public about why it's happening in the first place. Why should it take two years? Why couldn't it be done in six months and save everyone a lot of money?"

That's a question more than 35,000 frustrated motorists might also asking themselves - as they struggle to drive through it every day.