Two large oak trees with a royal connection are to be incorporated into the design of the new roundabout.
A blessing and sod turning event was held on Monday, January 13, at the site of the proposed roundabout which will replace the existing SH1 and SH5 intersection.
The two pin oak trees were planted on January 1, 1954 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s stopover visit to Tirau, which saw approximately 7000 people gather at the nearby Tirau reserve. The trees have been incorporated into the roundabout design.
The NZ Transport Agency recently awarded the six month contract to construct the four-legged roundabout to Schick Construction, who are keen to get started on building the new roundabout while the weather is warmer. The new roundabout will be located west of the existing intersection.
NZ Transport Agency Highway Manager Kaye Clark said at Monday’s event “Today’s event was important for all involved in helping us to arrive to our common objective of making this section of road safer. The South Waikato District Council, Ngati Raukawa, our road safety partners, landowners and the community have all worked with us to get this project going and continuing these relationships is important to achieving a good outcome.”
“We all know this intersection’s has a poor crash history; there have been 45 crashes in the last five years resulting in five deaths and four serious injuries. Our thoughts and sympathies go to the families and friends who have been affected by these tragic crashes.’’
“This section of highway is a key route for traffic travelling to and from Rotorua and the central north island, around 12,000 vehicles journey along this section of SH1 each day.”
South Waikato Mayor Neil Sinclair said he was delighted to see work about to start. “It’s been a long time coming but finally work is getting under way.”
He was also pleased to see the two oak trees would be incorporated into the design.
Regional Transport Committee chairman and Waikato regional councillor, Hugh Vercoe, who attended the blessing, said the committee had strongly endorsed plans to improve this intersection over the past six years.
“It has been among the top three high-priority projects we wanted to see carried out on our state highway network in the Waikato,’’ says Mr Vercoe.
“We’re pleased to see this work is now getting under way and expect that once completed road safety in the area will be greatly improved.”
Mayor Sinclair said the new roundabout would allow for the reserve (located opposite the existing intersection) to be better utilised due to improved access from the new roundabout.
Caption: Around 35 attended the blessing marking the start of construction of the new roundabout, these included local authority heads, NZ Transport Agency, the contractor, iwi and local residents.
Caption: NZ Transport Agency Highway Manager Kaye Clark speaks to iwi and stakeholders at the blessing under the Tirau Pin oaks. At left is Putaruru Anglican minister Ngira Simmonds.