The project is needed to relieve congestion on the congested length of SH1 Avalon Drive from Rotokauri Road to Norton Road. The existing highway carries over 25,000 vehicles per day and has a posted speed of 60km/ h. This heavy vehicle load and restricted speed, combined with the adjacent railway level crossing at Norton Road, has resulted in some significant congestion. There are 10 intersections along this 2km section of Avalon Drive and only 2 of them are signalled. The difficulties in pulling out of the unsignalled intersections have resulted in a significant number of drivers taking short cuts through the local streets in Nawton to come out at the signalised junctions, which are heavily congested at peak times. A busy state highway passing through a built up urban area can also constitute an increased safety risk for local inhabitants, degrade the environment of the community, and create a severance effect within the community. It also impedes the passage of through traffic, increasing travel time and costs for people and freight. The new bypass will reduce congestion, improve safety, and redirect inter-regional state highway traffic away from internal city traffic.
Modelling of traffic flows show that two lanes will be adequate for some time. However, provision has been made within the project’s current land designation for a further two lanes to be added as future traffic demand requires.
Widening of the existing road was considered as an option but was discarded as the frequency of private accesses and side roads to the highway meant that the there would be little improvement to congestion or amenity to the residents in the area.
Norton Road needs to intersect with the new bypass road, Rifle Range Road and Lincoln Street – and all these roads rise as they approach the existing intersection. If Norton Road was to pass over the railway lines all these roads would need to be raised to an elevated intersection, and would also need to be much longer. The electrification gantries for this section of the railway would also require a much higher road overbridge. Both a road overbridge and underpass were evaluated as options during the project design process and the option of the road passing under the railway was determined to be much more economical, less noisy and less visually intrusive.
This will remain as a local road administered by Hamilton City Council (HCC), with improved safety and access for pedestrians and cyclists.
With the construction of the new container terminal at the end of Crawford Street the number of tracks will be reduced to three, and the new bridge will carry three tracks.
ONTRACK will undertake all rail infrastructure works including track realignments, signalling and gantry relocations. Transit will undertake all road construction work, including the construction of the bridge and the lowering and reconstruction of Norton Road. Services, including water, electricity, and communications, will be relocated by the relevant utility companies prior to the works commencing.
Approximately 6,000 vehicles per day enter Norton Road from the west and a similar number exit from Norton Road into Lincoln Street or Rifle Range Road.
By comparison Lincoln Street (SH1) carries approximately 25,000 vehicles per day.
The Avalon Drive Bypass is one component of a strategy to upgrade the western SH1 corridor of Hamilton. The western corridor is the existing SH1 through Hamilton serving the city's commercial and industrial hub and providing connections to the Crawford Street Rail Village. It also links to SH23 to Raglan and SH3 to Taranaki. As part of the western corridor strategy, the Te Rapa Bypass is also currently being investigated and is planned to commence construction within five years. This project will consider and address the congestion issues around and north of Wintec and will also consider the linkages to the Avalon Drive Bypass project. Over the next three years Transit will also be addressing a number of key intersections south of the Avalon Drive Bypass project, including: Killarney Road and Greenwood Street (SH1), Ohaupo Road (SH3) and Kahikatea Drive (SH1), and Cambridge Road (SH1) and Morrinsville Road (SH26).