The NZ Transport Agency has announced plans to revamp Hamilton’s busiest roundabout this year.
The Hillcrest roundabout will be replaced with a new, larger roundabout which will have three entry lanes for city bound State Highway 1 traffic and a slip lane for vehicles heading onto State Highway 26 (Morrinsville Road).
The Transport Agency’s Waikato Highways Manager, Kaye Clark says the new roundabout will improve safety and help to ease congestion at the intersection.
“The Hillcrest roundabout is the city’s busiest with 37,000 vehicles using it every day,” she says.
“At peak times it is a major pinch point which we know causes a lot of frustration for people travelling through.
“The new, larger roundabout will make a difference to traffic flow.”
Mrs Clark says the Transport Agency investigated all possible improvements for the intersection, including traffic lights.
“We looked at installing traffic lights with a pedestrian crossing however our modelling showed this would have added to the congestion issues and caused more delays,” she says.
“More lanes would have been required to get traffic through as well as the larger roundabout will and having a signalised pedestrian crossing on a section of SH1 with such a heavy traffic flow would have caused significantly more congestion.
“We are confident that expanding the roundabout is the most balanced and effective solution possible here.”
As part of the project the Transport Agency plans to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists by building new paths and a new pedestrian crossing on SH26, so people can cross the road safely.
“With high traffic areas like this pedestrians and cyclists are safer on separated facilities,” Ms Clark says.
“We plan to build new paths on both sides of the entrance to the shopping centre and a new pedestrian crossing on SH26 (Morrinsville Road). The pedestrian crossing will have a raised refuge, so pedestrian can safely cross one lane and wait in the middle of the road before crossing the next lane.
“An existing underpass that takes pedestrians under SH1 will remain in place and a cycle lane will be formed from SH1 into SH26 giving both pedestrians and cyclists safe options to get around.”
The contract to build the new roundabout is going out to tender in May and will be awarded by the end of June.
Construction will start shortly afterwards, once property purchase is finalised.
The cost of the project is $2M which includes property purchase, design and construction.
Extensive traffic management will be required during the construction period, and the Transport Agency will hold an open day to explain what will be happening once a contractor is chosen and before construction begins.
“This is a complex project at a busy intersection surrounded by people’s homes, local businesses and schools,” Mrs Clark says.
“We need to balance the needs of everyday motorists, large vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians while also supporting access to local residences and businesses.
“It’s a challenging task, but we are confident that expanding the roundabout is the best solution at this time.
“We will be working closely with the successful contractor and the community to ensure we find the best way to get the job done with the least disruption.”
Contractors will begin investigation works at the site next week, from May 4 until May 7.
The work involves the use of heavy machinery to locate power and water service lines beneath the road. Due to the high traffic volumes the work will be carried out at night between the hours of 8pm and 6am.
One lane in each direction will be closed during work hours and a 30km/h speed restriction will be in place. Vehicle access to and from local properties will be maintained at all times
The open day date, times and venue will be advertised once the contractor for the project is announced.
People wanting more information on next week’s work or the project can contact the Hamilton office of the Transport Agency on: (07) 958 7220.
For personalised information about driving conditions on their frequently used routes, motorists can check out and sign up to On The Move at www.onthemove.govt.nz(external link).
For real time information on highway conditions and incidents visit www.nzta.govt.nz(external link) call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS or follow @nztawaibop on twitter.