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Improving safety key feature of Waikato SH plan

Hamilton Regional Office
Media Release

30 June 2004

Improving safety key feature of Waikato SH plan

Important safety improvements are the major features of Transit New Zealand’s 10-Year State Highway Plan 2004/05-2013/14 for the Waikato region, released today.

Large projects, with a construction cost of more than $3 million, are planned over 10 years. Small and medium-sized projects with a construction cost of less than $3 million are planned over three years.

Transit regional manager Colin Knags said 13 safety improvements on rural highways are planned for construction in the next three years.

“Construction is already underway on the Tapapa Curves Realignment on SH5 east of Tirau, and several other realignments are planned for construction in the next three years. In total, there are nine rural realignments planned on Waikato state highways in the next 10 years.”

Mr Knaggs said the plan included four bridge widening or replacement projects and two rural intersection improvements in the next three years.

Also making the region’s state highways safer will be 29 new passing lanes to be developed and constructed within the next three years.

“Our three-year plan for small and medium projects includes a number of passing lanes on SH1 between Cambridge and the Desert Road, as well as on SH2 between Pokeno and Mangatarata. It also includes additional passing lanes on SH3 between Te Kuiti and Mokau and on SH25A between Kopu and Hikuai.”

Transit’s plan includes $576 million for new state highway improvement projects in Waikato in the next 10 years, with $54 million approved for 2004/05. A further $580 million would be spent on maintenance over the 10 years, Mr Knaggs said.

“Some of the projects outlined in the plan may be built faster and others added with additional funding we anticipate from a share of the regional distribution funding resulting from the Government’s December 2003 funding package, ‘Investing in Growth’ raised through an increase in petrol tax,” Mr Knaggs said.

He said economic growth and resultant increases in traffic demand meant the state highway network in the Waikato would require substantial upgrading within the next 10 to 20 years.

The major road corridors that are planned for upgrading to four-lane expressway standard are SH1 between Mercer and Cambridge (Waikato Expressway), and SH2 between Pokeno and Mangatarata (Maramarua Expressway).

“Good progress has been made in recent years on progressing the construction of the Waikato Expressway. The Rangiriri to South of Ohinewai section and the Huntly Internal Bypass have recently been completed. The very difficult and expensive section between Mercer and Longswamp is currently under construction, along with the installation of a median barrier between Longswamp and Rangiriri,” Mr Knaggs said.

Meanwhile, the designation for the Cambridge Bypass is in place with design proposed for 2004/05 and Transit is completing the designations for the remaining sections of the Waikato Expressway, including the Huntly and Hamilton bypasses.

On SH2 between Pokeno and Mangatarata the 10-year plan includes a proposal to construct two-lane deviations (with sections of four lanes to provide strategic passing opportunities) of both Mangatawhiri and Maramarua, consistent with an ultimate scheme to four-lane this section of highway. A realignment at Grahams Stream Bridge is also being investigated.

“While the four-lane Maramarua Expressway is a long-term project, improvements to the alignment of the existing highway, together with passing lanes and traffic management improvements, will be undertaken in the meantime to improve safety and provide more frequent passing opportunities,” Mr Knaggs said.

Consultation played an important role in the development of the plan within the context of the new Land Transport Management Act (passed in November 2003), Mr Knaggs said.

All large project proposals have been reviewed to ensure integrated solutions that fitted with Waikato’s local authority plans and that the benefits of the plans were sustainable.

The 10-year plan also details work in urban areas including a Te Rapa Bypass, an Avalon Drive Bypass, the Church to Avalon Drive four-laning and improvements to the southern approaches to Hamilton. There will also be new bypasses in Taupo and Whitianga and additional passing lanes provided on high-volume highways.
Major features of the plan are:

• Mercer to Longswamp section of the Waikato Expressway, currently under construction
• Longswamp to Rangiriri central median safety barrier, currently under construction
• early design of the Cambridge Bypass
• major rural realignments including:
- Mangatawhiri Deviation on SH2, for a construction start in 2004/05
- Maramarua Deviation on SH2
• Hamilton city bypasses comprising:
- Avalon Drive Bypass between Rotokauri Road and Norton Road,
- Te Rapa Bypass
• a new, two-lane Kopu Bridge on SH25
• four intersection improvements in Hamilton city
• continued development of a funding package with the Taupo District Council, for the construction of an eastern bypass of Taupo
• 13 safety improvements on rural highways in the next three years comprising small rural realignments, seal widening, bridge widening and intersection improvements
• 29 more passing lanes for development and construction in the next three years
• three new stock effluent disposal facilities
• five cycling improvement projects.

…ends/

For further information go to: www.transit.govt.nz
Detailed maps and timing of projects are listed by region.

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