The Waikato Expressway, which currently finishes south of Cambridge, is one step closer to being extended to Piarere after the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Board endorsed the business case.
Regional Manager System Design Jess Andrew says Waka Kotahi can now progress to protect the preferred route.
“The Notice of Requirement will be prepared and lodged under the Resource Management Act to enable route protection, which is the identification and protection of the land which will be the footprint for future public work.
“This will offer property owners, businesses and the community certainty on where the transport route will be in the future,” she says. “Route protection will enable people to make informed decisions about their own land and the development of that land.”
The application will also involve the lodgement of regional consents to address the requirements of the Waikato Regional Council. It is planned to submit these in the later part of 2022, subject to completing RMA assessments as scheduled.
“As part of developing the applications, further consultation and discussions with landowners, mana whenua, local government, the community, and local businesses will continue. There will be opportunities for the community to get involved soon.”
Once route protection is secured, the next stages, after funding is confirmed, include detailed design, tendering and construction.
No funding has yet been allocated for construction of the 16km extension and is not expected until later in the decade. However, route protection is a very important step to ensure we are ready to proceed if and when funding is made available.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be $635m. There is no funding available in the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) to prioritise this project for detailed design and construction before the 2027 – 2030 period.
Implementation of safety work on State Highway 1 between Cambridge and Piarere will continue in order to make the current road safer until the expressway extension is completed. The first stage of median barrier installation, from Fergusson Gully Road 2.5km south towards Piarere, was completed in December 2020. The second stage of median barriers will run for 4.5km from the reserve near where the stage 1 barriers finish through to Maungatautari Road.
“Designs are being finalised for the second stage of median barriers and we are planning opportunities to discuss these with the community shortly,” Ms Andrew says.
Funding will be sought from the Road to Zero Speed and Infrastructure Programme to progress design and implementation of a third stage of an additional 7.9km of safety improvements from the current end of the Cambridge section of the Waikato Expressway to Fergusson Gully Road. This includes improving risky intersections on this section of road, such as SH1/Karapiro Road. The highway from south of Maungatautari Road to Piarere (1.4km) will also be made safer.
Having median barriers and associated turnaround facilities on the majority of the length of SH1 between the Cambridge end of the Waikato Expressway and the SH1/29 intersection will result in a significant improvement in safety both until and beyond the road being replaced by the extension of the expressway.
The design and construction of a roundabout at the intersection of SH1 and State Highway 29 has been funded through the NZ Upgrade Programme. The roundabout will replace the current T intersection of SH1/29 at Piarere. Construction is currently planned to begin in 2022, depending on negotiations with landowners and resource consents. The preferred site was announced last week.