Thousands of Cantabrians yesterday took the opportunity to walk, run and cycle the region’s newest stretch of motorway before it opens to traffic.
The NZ Transport Agency’s Western Belfast Bypass open day was held on Sunday from 10am until 2pm, giving people the chance to check out the new highway before it opens to traffic in stages from tomorrow (Tuesday, October 31).
Bypassing Belfast, the new four-lane stretch of highway extends the Christchurch Northern Motorway and connects into State Highway 1 Johns Road, west of The Groynes entrance.
Yesterday’s open day: people getting a relaxed view of the new swoop of highway.
The project also includes three new bridges, off-road walking and cycling facilities and a new-look entrance to The Groynes recreation area.
Transport Agency Principal Project Manager Geoff Griffiths says it was great to see so many people at the open day.
“There is a lot of excitement about this project,” he says.
“People have been watching us construct the bypass with great anticipation - they know it will make a real difference to their journeys.”
Mr Griffiths says traffic will be switched onto the new bypass in stages from early tomorrow morning. (Tuesday, October 31).
This staged opening will allow the project team to complete the final parts of the project, such as connecting the bypass up to the existing road network and carrying out surfacing work on the on/off ramps.
“A northbound lane (heading towards Picton) will open to traffic first, followed by a southbound lane (heading towards Christchurch International Airport) just over a week later,” Mr Griffiths says.
“It is important that people stay focussed and ensure they are in the correct lanes.”
From Tuesday, people can take the new bypass if they are travelling north and use The Groynes off-ramp to get to Belfast and The Groynes.
When the first southbound lane opens in November, people will be able to take the new bypass to travel to Christchurch International Airport and Hornby. Those wanting to go to Belfast and the city will turn off onto Main North Road.
Weather dependent, all lanes of the bypass are expected to open to traffic in December 2017. The team will be back to lay the final low noise asphalt surfacing in spring 2018.
Once complete, the bypass will reduce congestion and travel times and provide a better and safer link throughout greater Christchurch.
The Western Belfast Bypass is one of the six sections of the Christchurch Western Corridor, a multi-million dollar project that will transform State Highway 1 between Belfast and Hornby.
Dropbox link (external link) to the open day and other video footages of the Western Belfast Bypass.