The NZ Transport Agency and Hamilton City Council (HCC) commenced a joint investigation of the proposed Southern Links project in September 2010. The investigation took nearly three years to complete, to get to the formal Resource Management Act stage.
The Southern Links project has been integrated into the Waikato region's Future Proof strategy, which aims to optimise the planning of land use, regional growth and key infrastructure in and around Hamilton. Future Proof is a partnership between Waikato Regional Council, HCC, the Waikato and Waipa District councils and Iwi, with the Transport Agency as a key stakeholder.
Identifying and protecting the future transport network will enable good long-term planning to be carried out.
This project sees the NZ Transport Agency and HCC working together to ensure that the future state highway routes will be well integrated with local roads and the planned residential and industrial developments. When constructed the Southern Links project will reduce congestion, improve safety on SH1 and SH3 in the Hillcrest and Melville suburbs of Hamilton, improve freight flows and be a key part of the city’s urban arterial network.
Southern Links will also complement the Waikato Expressway by providing the main southern access linking Hamilton. The network will provide better linkage and access across and in and out of Hamilton and surrounding districts for all motorists. And it supports and enables the local growth strategy by providing efficient movement of vehicles and freight around the Waikato region.
Those benefits include stimulating the economy, improving journeys by reducing travel times, improving road safety and reducing congestion.
In August 2013 the Transport Agency and HCC lodged the route protection applications with the relevant councils (Waipa District, Waikato District and Hamilton City). The route protection applications are called a Notice of Requirement.
At the same time, resource consent applications to Waikato Regional Council for the key new bridges over the Waikato River and Mangakotukutuku Stream on the network were also lodged.
The Notices of Requirement and resource consent applications for the Southern Links network and the key bridges were publicly notified for submissions on 29 January 2014. The applications were heard by independent commissioners in mid-2014.