A six kilometre stretch of the Tauranga Eastern Link (TEL) will open to traffic this week, marking a major milestone in the road’s construction.
The NZ Transport Agency has announced plans to open all four lanes of a stretch of the TEL between Te Maunga and Domain Road early, ahead of the roads official opening later this year.
Transport Agency senior project manager Wayne Troughton says the two lanes currently opened will be phased into four lanes over the coming week, opening up the first completed four lane section of the road to traffic.
“Opening up this section early is really exciting,” Mr Troughton says.
“Motorists will notice immediate time savings when travelling between Tauranga and Papamoa, which will give them a feel for what travelling the whole TEL will be like when it opens later this year.”
The two westbound lanes travelling towards Tauranga from Te Puke or Papamoa will open first, with the eastbound lanes to follow.
“Weather does play a part and we are watching it closely, Mr Troughton says.
“If we can’t get the lanes open this week before the long weekend then it will definitely happen next week.”
Mr Troughton says the local community and road users have been extremely patient during the project.
“I would like to say a big thank to everyone for their patience while this section of State Highway 2 has been upgraded,” he says.
“It is no easy feat to construct a road when there is live traffic, there are so many things that have to be taken into consideration, with the top priority being safety and impact to people’s journeys, but the project team has done well to keep traffic moving over the last four and a half years.”
The speed along the existing section of State Highway 2 will increase from 80km/h to 100km/h following the opening, reducing to 70km/h prior to the Domain Road roundabout.
Work will still be on-going at the Domain Road interchange and Mangatawa interchange, with the latter expected to open in late-June.
Mr Troughton says the project team is well ahead of schedule and the Transport Agency is making plans to open the road later this year, some months ahead of schedule.
The TEL is one of seven Roads of National Significance (RoNS) based around New Zealand's five largest population centres.
The RoNS have been identified by Government as key projects for moving people and freight between and within these centres more safely and efficiently.
An animated video which shows what the TEL will look like once open can be viewed here(external link).
Find out more about the TEL here.(external link)