Work on the final three sections of the Waikato Expressway will get underway this year, following the green light from the NZ Transport Agency board.
The Transport Agency board has approved $1.08 billion to fund construction of the Hamilton and Longswamp sections of the Expressway.
The Transport Agency also expects to announce the successful tenderer for the $458million Huntly section this month.
The Transport Agency’s Waikato and Bay of Plenty regional director Harry Wilson said the green light from the board meant that all seven sections of the expressway will be built, under construction or out to tender by the end of 2015.
The Waikato Expressway is one of seven Roads of National Significance (RoNS) identified by the government as key to unlocking New Zealand’s potential for economic growth.
“The expressway is a vital piece of infrastructure which will cut travel times between Auckland and Tirau by up to 35 minutes, significantly improve safety by preventing serious crashes, increase highway capacity and make a major contribution to our country’s economic growth,” Mr Wilson said.
“Today’s announcement is a significant step forward for the project. It is the culmination of ongoing work and collaboration between the Transport Agency, the Waikato local and regional councils and key partners such as Waikato Tainui.
“After many years of dedication and commitment from the region’s leaders, we are on the verge of finishing this exciting project. It will be exciting to watch the final sections of the Waikato Expressway take shape.”
Mr Wilson said the 21.8km Hamilton section and the 15.2km Huntly sections were the largest and most complex sections of the expressway, and would also bring the biggest benefits in terms of travel time savings and safety.
“Work on the Huntly section is expected to begin in September and we will start the tender process on the other two sections over the next eight months.
“This work, combined with the other two final sections will bring an immediate boost to the local economy.
“These projects will create jobs locally with the employment of sub-contractors and provide a flow-on effect for local businesses, which is great news for our region,” Mr Wilson said.
Multi-party funding agreements for the Hamilton section are being finalised between the Transport Agency, Waikato District Council, Hamilton City Council and Tainui Group Holdings.
The agreements outline how the interchanges will connect to the local road network, particularly around Ruakura and Rototuna, to deliver an effective transport system which supports growth and development.
“Close collaboration with these partners has helped ensure the expressway will support the region’s growth and development plans into the future,” Mr Wilson said.
The announcement has been welcomed by the Waikato region’s leaders, who say the expressway will boost both the Waikato and national economy.
Waikato Regional transport committee chairman Hugh Vercoe said the committee – made up of representatives of the region’s councils and other stakeholders – had long been united in its strong advocacy for expressway funding.
“Identifying the expressway as a priority for our region, and speaking with one voice on this issue, has really helped guide central Government’s thinking on providing funding.
“This is fantastic news and the work will give a further shot in the arm to the regional economy, road safety and quicker journeys for both business and the public.”
Hamilton City Council mayor Julie Hardaker said the completion of the Waikato Expressway would deliver enormous long-term benefits to the Waikato and to Hamilton.
“This project is a major contributor to economic prosperity, not only for our region but for New Zealand,” she said.
“Easy, safer and quicker travel times between Auckland and Hamilton will provide another boost to Hamilton’s liveability and economy.
“We have already experienced the benefits of this roading project with the sections completed to date.”
Waikato District Council deputy mayor Dynes Fulton said the Waikato was developing at a fast pace and completion of the expressway allowed council to continue supporting that growth.
“Waikato District Council is serious about the regions continued success and the role our communities play in boosting New Zealand’s economy,” Mr Fulton said.
“Like our partners, we are planning well in advance to ensure we get the right infrastructure balance.”
Waikato-Tainui chief executive Parekawhia McLean said Waikato-Tainui welcomed the funding commitment.
“We look forward to continuing our working relationship with the Transport Agency to maintain the momentum of the Waikato Expressway,” she said.
“The benefits of the expressway to the region are vast. Like the Transport Agency, a key priority for the tribe has always been to make our roads safe for everyone.”
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The Waikato Expressway is extends from the State Highway 1 and 2 intersection at the base of the Bombay hills in the north to just south of Cambridge.
It will provide 102km of continuous divided four-lane highway and reduce the length of State Highway 1 by 6km. it is being built in seven sections and is on track to open in 2019.
The $972.94m Hamilton section will connect to the Ngaruawahia section completed in 2013 and to the Cambridge section due for completion in 2016. It will reduce congestion and improve safety on Hamilton’s local roads by significantly reducing through traffic from State Highway 1.
The $115.09m Longswamp section will cover 5.9km and connect to the Rangiriri section and the completed Mercer section, providing safer connections for the local community and increasing capacity to four lanes.
Work will now begin on preparing the tender documents for the Hamilton and Longswamp sections with construction of both projects expected to get underway in 2016.
Construction of the $468m 15.2km long Huntly section is expected to start in September. This section will connect the Ohinewai section in the north with the Ngaruawahia section to the south.
For more information see: www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/waikato-expressway/index.html(external link)
For more information please contact:
Waikato / Bay of Plenty Media Manager
T: 07 928 7908
M: 021 928 413