Road-widening work will start next week by Mander Park, in Whangarei, where the removal of 11 mature trees brought protest action this year.
Opponents of the project yesterday said they still felt the trees should have stayed, but considered little could be achieved by additional protest now they had gone.
The NZ Transport Agency on Monday begins the next stage of its work to improve State Highway 1 through Whangarei by moving overhead power and underground services from the Caltex service station to Wilson Ave on SH1 - also known as Western Hills Dr - and from Third Ave to Fifth Ave on Central Ave. Widening SH1 and building new footpaths will follow, with the upgrade expected to be completed by next April.
While protesters may not delay this stage, the agency's acting state highways manager for Auckland and Northland, Steve Mutton, has warned the work would cause widespread disruption for motorists.
The agency would do all it could to minimise the disruption.
"We will have diversions in place, but people should allow more time for their travel so they can reach their destinations safely and on time."
Mr Mutton said the improvements in Whangarei would include safer facilities for walkers and cyclists, a wider highway, and smoother traffic flows at intersections.
However, project critic Vince Cocurullo, a former Whangarei District Councillor, said upgrading the SH1-Central Ave intersection was needed, but widening to four lanes would increase traffic speed in a residential area and see motorists bypass Whangarei: "This project has been badly managed - the trees didn't have to go."
Environmental activist Hone Shortland agreed.
"Bowling the old trees can't be justified. The trees planted to replace them are barely a metre away from where the old trees were," he said.