Work will start on the most complex and highly anticipated section of the Waikato Expressway this month, the NZ Transport Agency says.
The 21.8 kilometre long Hamilton section of the expressway is the largest roading project in the Waikato’s history. The Transport Agency board approved $973 million to fund the project.
The project includes 17 bridges, five new interchanges and walking and cycle paths, and will see a restoration strategy developed for number of Hamilton’s gully systems.
Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key and Transport Minister Hon Simon Bridges turned the first sod on the project at a ceremony today that included Transport Agency and local council representatives, project staff, landowners and Waikato-Tainui.
The Transport Agency’s Hamilton highways manager, Kaye Clark says the Hamilton section is the final and most complex piece of the Waikato Expressway puzzle.
“The Hamilton section is the biggest roading project in Waikato’s history – a stretch of road that will make a real difference to safety and efficiency when it opens in 2020,” Mrs Clark says.
“The project is highly anticipated and supported by the Waikato community and we are excited to get underway on what will be a huge job.
“During construction up to 600 people will be working onsite to get the road open.
“The project will use an estimated 28,450m3 of concrete, 212km road markings and 126km of fencing. In total 4 million cubic metres of dirt will be moved before this new stretch of highway can open to traffic.”
Mrs Clark says the Transport Agency has worked closely with Hamilton City Council, Waikato District Council, Waikato Tainui and including members from, Ngaati Koroki Kahukura, Ngaati Hauaa, Ngaati Wairere and Ngati Mahanga on the project.
“The expressway connects inter-regional traffic with local destinations which is vital for the economy and for our vibrant communities. We have to get these things right and we can only do that if we partner up,” she says.
Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker says the project is a great enabler for growth and development in the city as well as the region.
“Today’s ceremony is a milestone moment for Hamilton and reflects the successful partnership between Hamilton City Council, NZ Transport Agency and other national, regional and local stakeholders, ” she says.
“Completion of the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway is the last part for completion in this significant investment for New Zealand and it will bring real benefits for our city’s economy and lifestyle.”
Waikato-Tainui Chief Executive Parekawhia McLean says Waikato-Tainui continues to work closely with NZTA to ensure the expressway reflects the aspirations of the tribe.
“Together with our local people, we have developed a comprehensive mitigation plan, that covers environmental and waahi tapu protection, training, education and employment,” she says.
“We have a number of marae people working alongside the project archaeologists, monitoring and recording historical sites and collecting and protecting historical artefacts.”
“Road safety continues to be a priority, we are working with NZTA to ensure everyone is kept safe on our roads.”
Tainui Group Holdings chief executive Chris Joblin says connections between the Hamilton section and the planned Ruakura logistics hub will effectively bring Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga closer.
"Planned connections between the Hamilton section and our new Ruakura logistics and lifestyle hub will unlock a smoother flow of people and freight within the golden triangle of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga and effectively bring the three cities closer together," Mr Joblin says.
Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson says, “Early on we saw the advantages the Expressway provided to open up and support new development in the Waikato district and region as a whole. The Waikato Expressway is attracting exciting businesses, innovative people and is also providing lifestyle opportunities for our towns.
“For example, Pokeno would not have developed in the same way. But it has grown and connected to wider parts of the Waikato district in ways not previously possible pre Expressway.
“People from Pokeno can commute to Auckland or Hamilton while maintaining a village lifestyle in a vibrant, thriving community. That was part of our vision, and what we want for all communities in our district.”
All seven sections of the Waikato Expressway are scheduled to be complete in 2020 when both the Hamilton and Huntly sections are finished.
The expressway is one of seven Roads of National Significance (RoNS) identified by the Government as being key to unlocking New Zealand’s future growth.
Once complete, the Waikato Expressway will reduce the journey time between Auckland and south of Cambridge by up to 35 minutes, improve connections for freight and business, support economic growth and development, and significantly improve safety on this stretch of SH1.
Hamilton section quick facts