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Associate Minister marks start of Waikato Expressway -Rangiriri

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Construction on the Rangiriri section of the Waikato Expressway was formally marked today, with Hon. Michael Woodhouse, Associate Minister of Transport, turning the first sod on the new alignment.

Turning the first sod. Associate Minister of Transport Michael Woodhouse is using a traditional Ko.
Turning the first sod. Associate Minister of Transport Michael Woodhouse is using a traditional Ko.

For more images, see the Rangiriri section website gallery(external link).

The New Zealand Transport Agency has awarded the contract to build the $105 million Road of National Significance to Fletcher Construction. Pre-construction works on the 4.8km section were started last month and the project is expected to take about three years to build.

NZTA, Waikato Bay of Plenty Regional Director, Harry Wilson says the NZTA has worked closely with Waikato Tainui to ensure the cultural heritage of Rangiriri is preserved.

The project will see the current State Highway 1 realigned to the west, away from the historic Rangiriri Pa site.

Interpretive panels and carved pou will be installed to recognise areas including the battle trench, site of the 1863 battle of Rangiriri, a pivotal battle in the New Zealand land wars.

“This is an incredibly important piece of New Zealand’s history. This project will not only recognise these sites it will provide a focal point for visitors to the area,” Mr Wilson says.

Mr Wilson says since the Waikato Expressway was advanced as one of the Government’s seven Roads of National Significance (RoNS), progress on the project has been impressive.

“The Expressway is an important piece of infrastructure for the Waikato region. Importers, exporters, tourism and commuters will all benefit from a safer and more efficient link between the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Auckland.

“By the end of this year two sections of the Expressway (Te Rapa and Ngaruawahia) will have been completed, and another two sections (Rangiriri and Tamahere-Cambridge) will be under construction,” Mr Wilson says.

Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson says since the Te Rapa section was opened in December last year, he had saved up to 10 minutes on a journey into Hamilton city.

“The Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway has taken at least 10 minutes off my trips from the office in Ngaruawahia to Hamilton city. I save about five minutes on the State Highway network but I also save about five minutes by driving into Hamilton on less congested city roads”

“That equates not only to less time spent in traffic it also means fuel savings. It’s a clear illustration of how key infrastructure like the Expressway is delivering real value for money,” Mr Wilson says.

Editor’s notes:

The Waikato Expressway sections are currently at the stages described below:

  • Pokeno and Mercer sections totalling 22.6km are completed
  • Longswamp – construction to start in 2016, completed by 2018
  • Rangiriri – under construction, completed by late 2016
  • Ohinewai section of 7.0km is completed
  • Huntly section of 15.2km is now being investigated and designed
  • Ngaruawahia section of 12.3km is under construction, completion late 2013
  • Te Rapa section of 8km is complete
  • Hamilton section of 21.8km is now being investigated and designed
  • Tamahere interchange of 2.4km is completed
  • Tamahere and Cambridge sections of 16km is expected to start construction in September 2013

The Waikato Expressway will provide for two lanes of traffic in each direction divided by a central barrier with local roads and interchanges generally serviced by bridges and underpasses. The expressway will be 102 km in length from the Bombay Hills to south of Cambridge - some 6km shorter than the current State Highway 1.

Cultural and environmental aspects of the Rangiriri project include:

  • A symbolic recreation of the historic battle trench through the installation of carved pou on the site.
  • The historic site of Paetai, south of Rangiriri town, associated with the crowning of the first Maaori King will be recognised with carved pou and a plaque.
  • In line with the Agency’s focus on Environmental Sustainability eco-sourced plants grown from seed collected in the area will be planted along the Waikato River.

More information is available at www.nzta.govt.nz/waikato-expressway(external link) or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/waikatoexpressway(external link).

The Waikato Expressway is part of the NZTA’s roads of national significance programme (RoNS for short), which represents one of New Zealand’s biggest ever infrastructure investments. Once completed, the seven RoNS routes will reduce congestion in and around our five largest metropolitan areas, and will move people and freight between and within these centers more safely and efficiently. Other RoNS are: Puhoi to Wellford, Auckland’s Western Ring Route, Auckland’s Victoria Park Tunnel (completed in 2012), Waikato Expressway, Wellington Northern Corridor, and Christchurch Motorways. More information is available at www.nzta.govt.nz/rons(external link)

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