Construction is underway on the Cambridge Section of the Waikato Expressway, a sod turning event was held this morning to mark the start of the $250 million project.
The 16km project is the fourth section of Expressway to enter the construction phase since it was announced as one of the Government’s Roads of National Significance and means more than half of the entire 102km Expressway is now either under construction or completed.
The NZ Transport Agency’s Highways Manager, Kaye Clark says the Cambridge Section is significant for the Expressway.
“The Waikato Expressway is a key piece of infrastructure for the region, which will underpin its long-term growth and economic development. This is a very significant day, to have more than half of the sections under construction or finished and brings us another step closer to completing this vital transport link.”
The ceremony was held in Cambridge and was also attended by Waikato MP Lindsay Tisch, Taupo MP Louise Upston, Waipa Mayor Alan Livingston, Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson and iwi from the Ngati Koroki Kahukura and Te Whakaminenega O Haua Trusts.
Mr Livingston, who is standing down after 12 years as Mayor of Waipa in the next local body elections, says he is especially pleased to see the work begin during his tenure.
“The Cambridge community is definitely ready for the Expressway, as the town is facing traffic heavy congestion, particularly at peak times.”
“We greatly appreciate the commitment shown by Government and the Transport Agency which will provide a significant economic benefit to the Waipa District and the Waikato region.”
Along with reducing the journey time between the Bombay Hills in the north to Tirau in the south by 35 minutes, Mrs Clark says the Expressway will also provide a more effective and efficient transport network connecting the business centers of Waikato, Auckland and Bay of Plenty.
“The Waikato Region accounts for around half of New Zealand’s economic activity, and connects the dairying hub of the Waikato with the ports at Auckland and Tauranga. The Expressway plays a vital role in supporting the economic growth of both the region and the country,” says Mrs Clark.
Along with enabling long term growth, the project, being built by HEB Construction and their designers URS, is expected to create upwards of 300 jobs in the region, both directly on site and through subcontractors employed over the next three years.
HEB Construction, founder Bruce Pulman said the company was delighted to be involved in the project.
"HEB Construction is delighted to be awarded this contract. It strengthens our portfolio of design and construct projects that have recently been built for the Government. We hope to be good neighbours to the Cambridge Community for the next 3 years."
Today’s event was held near the site of the Karapiro Stream Gully Viaduct crossing which will be the largest structure on the Cambridge Section.
Mr Pulman said at 200 metres long and approximately 40 metres high the bridge would be an engineering showpiece for the project its design focussed on reducing the environmental footprint on the gully system. “This is achieved by having long deck spans and avoiding piers halfway up the very steep sides of the gully. Nevertheless, it will still be an engineering challenge to construct.”
“The gully viaduct is just one of the design innovations that HEB and URS have developed for the project which will ultimately not only save time and money but ensure the project impacts lightly on its surrounds. Another is the large overall reduction in earthwork volumes which therefore reduces the impact on both state highways and local roads.”
Mrs Clark says the Cambridge Section is expected to reduce the travel time between Hamilton and Cambridge by approximately 5 minutes and will significantly improve safety on this stretch of Highway.
“Between 2000 and 2012 there have been 12 fatal and 43 serious injury crashes on this section of road. This project will improve safety significantly reducing the tragic social costs associated with these crashes.”
The section stretches from the current Tamahere Interchange on State Highway 1 to 2.5km south of Cambridge, rejoining the current SH1 past the Cambridge Golf Course.
Interchanges will be built at Discombe Road, Victoria Road and at the southern end of the Expressway where it will join the existing SH1.
The 16km long Cambridge section will pass to the north and east of Cambridge. It will connect with the existing Tamahere interchange to the north and with the existing SH1 to the south of Cambridge town.
The Cambridge section will: