The NZ Transport Agency's Kamo Bypass Stage 2 on State Highway 1 in Whangarei was officially opened today (Sunday, 4 September) three months ahead of scheduled, boosting transport links in Whangarei and the wider Northland region on the eve of the Rugby World Cup.
The 1.3 kilometre-long extension to the existing bypass was opened after a traditional dawn blessing lead by local iwi, and a ribbon cutting celebration involving Whangarei's MP, Hon Phil Heatley, the city's mayor, Morris Cutforth, and officials from the NZTA and its local contractors, United Civil.
The NZTA's Regional Director for Auckland and Northland, Stephen Town, says the Transport Agency is delighted that it has been able to open to bypass earlier than planned.
"It was also our target to get the bypass ready for the Rugby World Cup so that fans taking advantage of the tournament to see more of New Zealand now have a safer and smoother journey to Northland's many popular tourist attractions," Mr Town says.
"The benefits of the bypass, however, will continue long after the last rugby fan has returned home. It will improve safety and travel in Whangarei by taking about 10,000 vehicles off local roads, and the transport connections to the rest of Northland will help both commercial and private drivers."
"The Kamo Bypass allows traffic to stay on a higher speed purpose built state highway with no residential access. It also allows a connection to Whangarei District Council's new Spedding Road link" says Mr Town.
Today's official functions were followed by a community day to give people the chance to walk and cycle the newest section of SH1 before it was opened to traffic.
"The community day is our way of saying 'thank you' to local people for their support while the bypass was being constructed," Mr Town says.
The bypass cost $25m, including property acquisitions.
It runs north from the top of Western Hills Drive, intersects with the new Spedding Road link, before joining the original bypass close to the Whangarei golf course.
Highlights of the new highway include the Rupert Clark underpass with finished with street art by Trent Morgan and Dave Beazley, three large retaining walls with a relief representation of exposed basalt rock face, 700 metres of new noise walls, utilities relocation and protection and stormwater reticulation.
United Civil's managing director, Andrew Campbell, says the project has made an important contribution to the local economy.
"Our team have worked well employing over 100 people in different phases of the construction utilising local sub-contractors to bring this project in on budget and months ahead of schedule," Mr Campbell says.
Although traffic is able to use the new bypass, care will be needed over the next few weeks as work to complete the project continues.
The final seal for the highway surface will be laid between September and December. Adjustments will be made to traffic lights; there will be landscaping and fence construction, and some minor concrete works. The existing roundabout on Kamo Road will be removed and the road realigned.
"For the safety of drivers and their passengers we ask everyone to travel in this area with care and observe all signs - especially those relating to speed," Mr Town says.