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Long-awaited SH5/SH36 Ngongotahā roundabout open

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People traveling through the Ngongotahā roundabout can expect safer and more efficient journeys with the upgrade of the State Highway 5 / State Highway 36 roundabout now completed.

The long-awaited upgrade provides a safer intersection and better traffic flow for road users, addresses community concerns around safety as well as congestion at peak times.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Regional Manager Infrastructure Delivery, Jo Wilton, says the upgrade has been completed just in time for Christmas.

“This will be a very welcome change for the Ngongotahā community and road users, and a great achievement for the project team. It’s been a wet winter and spring, and construction in a live traffic environment is always a challenge.

“We acknowledge this was a disruptive piece of work and understand the inconvenience the works have caused people. I’d like to thank the local community and road users, especially those who commute through our work site daily, for their patience during the works,” Ms Wilton says.

The upgrade features an additional lane around, as well as on all approaches to, and exits from, the roundabout, including a new bypass lane from Ngongotahā to Rotorua.

The upgrade through the roundabout required a significant amount of work to the underground services.

“We have upgraded and relocated water mains and power services, and added ducting for future services around the area, so we won’t have to disrupt the road surface at a later date,” Ms Wilton says.

To slow vehicles to a safe speed, raised safety platforms have been installed as part of the roundabout upgrade, making the roundabout safer to navigate for all users. Two raised safety platforms are in place on the Ngongotahā to Rotorua bypass lane entering and exiting the roundabout, as well as one on the lane exiting towards Rotorua.

Roundabout metering will be upgraded to help improve traffic flow. In the new year, traffic lights will be operating on SH5 for traffic approaching the SH5/SH36 Ngongotahā roundabout from Hamilton. The traffic lights will be phased to ease queues on SH36 when it is busy – predominantly during the weekday morning peak.

The lights will only operate when traffic queues activate the metering. When this happens, the lights will turn amber then red to stop the vehicles, allowing traffic from the busiest road to enter the roundabout. The traffic lights will have amber and red lights only – no green.

“We’re asking people to take extra care when travelling through the roundabout as they get used to the new layout.”

There will be a permanent 80km/h speed limit through the roundabout.

“Work continues on the safety improvements along SH5 between SH36 and north of the golf course, including widening the road and installing median and side barriers,” says Ms Wilton.

Waka Kotahi is working closely with mana whenua, the local community and Rotorua Lakes Council to improve the city’s transport network, to create a safe and sustainable network that supports community wellbeing and makes people’s daily journeys more enjoyable.

Ngāti Tura Ngāti Te Ngakau Trust chair Geoff Rice acknowledges the importance of partnering on transport upgrades to support the local community.

“Te Komiti Nui o Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Whakaue Tribal Lands and in particular Ngāti Tura Ngāti Te Ngakau have worked closely with Waka Kotahi to undertake a challenging remodel of the SH5/SH36 Ngongotahā roundabout serving Rotorua me nga hapori (communities) o Ngongotahā, Hamurana and Kaharoa,” Mr Rice says.

Ngāti Tura Ngāti Te Ngakau trustee and project manager TePoari Newton says with the large amount of excavation and vehicle movement and, in particular, the cultural monitoring and discovery processes, they’d like to acknowledge the professionalism and respect provided by Waka Kotahi and its contractor Schick.

Rotorua Lakes Council Deputy Chief Executive – Infrastructure & Environmental Solutions, Stavros Michael, says the main highway corridors are key to connecting Rotorua to the rest of the North island.

“Partnering with Waka Kotahi, and securing significant Government funding to future-proof our key transport connections, is an important part of ensuring our city is ready for the population growth that is forecast for the next few decades,” Mr Michael says.

“The improvements are also about making our transport network safer, more efficient and enabling more choices in the mode of travel that our community chooses to use.”

The safety improvements project covers 8.1km of state highway, from the SH5/SH36 roundabout to Tarukenga. Improvements include widening SH5 to allow for a new wide centreline, sections of median barrier, roadside barriers, laying rumble strips and shortening the existing passing lane so vehicles can merge safely.

Road widening, barrier installation and other works along SH5, between the SH5/SH36 Ngongotahā roundabout to just north of the golf course, are programmed to wind up for the year today. Roading crews will ensure there will be minimal traffic management in place over the Christmas/New Year break.

Remaining road widening and further barrier installation, landscaping and road rehabilitation will take place in the new year. These works will recommence on 10 January and are expected to take until the end of February 2022 to complete.

Waka Kotahi thanks motorists for their patience as we continue work to make this busy stretch of state highway safer.

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