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Ngaruawahia section of Waikato Expressway opens

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The second section of the Waikato Expressway opened to traffic on Monday 16 December 2013, following a ceremony and community open day held on Saturday 14 December.

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Minister Brownlee cuts the ribbon to officially open the new section of road.
(L to R) - Waikato National MP Lindsay Tisch, NZ Transport Agency Waikato/BOP Highways Manager Kaye Clark, NZ Transport Agency Regional Director Harry Wilson, Waikato-Tainui chairperson for Te Arataura (Waikato-Tainui Board) Rahuui Papa, Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee, Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson, Fletcher Construction General Manager, Infrastructure, David Jewell and Waikato-Tainui kaumatua Pokaia Nepia, National MP for Hamilton East, David Bennett.

The second section of the Waikato Expressway opened to traffic on Monday 16 December 2013, following a ceremony and community open day held on Saturday 14 December. 

A large crowd assembled to watch Minister Gerry Brownlee cut the ribbon, joining NZ Transport Agency officials and project members along with local authority figures and iwi guests from Waikato-Tainui.

The new 12.3km section bypasses Ngaruawahia and stretches from Taupiri in the north to Horotiu in the south.  NZ Transport Agency Waikato Highways Manager, Kaye Clark, says the approximately $200 million project, built by contractor Fletcher Construction, was completed for around $50 million below its original cost estimate of $250 million.

“This is a crucial piece of infrastructure for the Waikato region and for New Zealand, as it is central to providing safer and more efficient transport links between the business and freight hubs of Waikato, Auckland and Tauranga.”

The Ngaruawahia Section joins to the existing Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway, which opened in December 2012.  The new section includes interchanges for the yet-to-be-built Huntly and Hamilton sections. The two sections together provide an estimated average saving of eight minutes to a peak time journey between Taupiri and Hamilton.

“Importers, exporters, tourism operators and commuters will also all benefit from having faster more efficient connections between the Waikato and Auckland,” says Mrs Clark.

Approximately a thousand members of the wider community attended the official ceremony held on the new 142 metre bridge across the Waikato River near Horotiu- ‘Te Rehu o Waikato’ (the mist of Waikato).  People were able to walk and cycle across the Ngaruawahia section during the day and also join in a Te Awa River Ride Cycleway opening ceremony further up the river, being held on the same day. 

Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson commented at the ceremony that he welcomed the opening of the Ngaruawahia Section as another important step in getting this hugely significant piece of infrastructure completed.

“I cannot overstate how important the expressway is for the Waikato district.  It is vital to our future growth and prosperity, by providing a modern transport link that will encourage, and is already encouraging, businesses and industries to relocate to the magnificent Waikato.”

The name ‘Te Rehu o Waikato’ for the new Waikato River bridge refers to the many significant events in Waikato-Tainui history which occurred when there was a blanket of mist on the river. The bridge is supported by four V-piers, two on either bank, which means that at no stage of its life will piers have had to be placed in the river. Alongside the bridge are four pou (carved poles), two at either end, which depict Waikato-Tainui ancestors and significant historical marae in the area from Taupiri to Horotiu.

Besides Te Rehu o Waikato, there are six local road overbridges on the Ngaruawahia Section, ensuring that disruption has been minimised for local residents by the construction of this vital piece of infrastructure.

Find out more at www.facebook.com/waikatoexpressway(external link)  or on the NZ Transport Agency website at www.nzta.govt.nz/Waikato-expressway(external link).

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Thousands of keen walkers, cyclists and the local community enjoyed a chance to explore the new section during the open day.

 

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