There is a milestone this week for the Longswamp section of the Waikato Expressway when traffic begins switching on to sections of the new lanes.
The southbound lanes are almost ready to open.
Construction started in early 2017 on widening the 5.9km section of SH1 between Rangiriri and Hampton Downs to create the new highway. The south-bound lanes are being built first, and when two-way traffic switches to the new lanes it makes room for construction of the north-bound lanes.
The NZ Transport Agency says the first staged switch over 1.4km is expected to happen on Friday, weather permitting, then another bigger section comes into use next month.
“Everyone connected with the project is looking forward to this milestone,” says NZ Transport Agency Delivery Portfolio manager, Peter Simcock.
“People using the road will see the progress and it shows the Longswamp section is on track, weather and other factors permitting, for completion next year.”
Only south-bound traffic will switch to the new lanes on Friday, south of the old Hall Road intersection with SH1, around noon. After some central median barrier work, north-bound traffic will move over the following week.
A second major switch is scheduled for a 2.5km section further north in late May. Both lanes will move at the same date, from 1km north of the old Whangamarino Rd intersection to just south of the new Paddy Rd overbridge.
“People travelling through the site since work began last year have been very patient and it’s great to start seeing this sort of progress,” Mr Simcock said.
“We now have the local road extensions open at Whangamarino and Rodda Road and they will be joined up later this year when we can open the overbridge now under construction at Paddy Road.”
The entire route remains under a 70km/h speed restriction.
Meanwhile another traffic movement is looming, on the Huntly section of the expressway.
Currently north and south-bound traffic is sharing what will be the Huntly off-ramp. Later next month traffic will move over to the future on-ramp, creating room for the project team to build the bridge over the adjacent railway line.
The 15km Huntly section is due for completion in 2020.