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Awakino Tunnel bypass begins

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The NZ Transport Agency is advising construction work on the 2.3km bypass to take traffic away from the single-lane Awakino Tunnel on State Highway 3 will begin next week.

The project involves constructing two new bridges over the Awakino River and a passing lane to take traffic away from the almost 100-year old single-lane tunnel. 

NZ Transport Agency Acting Director Regional Relationships Ross I’Anson says the Awakino Tunnel Bypass is a crucial part of a package of safety, resilience and route availability improvements on State Highway 3 from Awakino Gorge to Mt Messenger.

“In addition to improving safety and efficiency on this vital route connecting Taranaki to the north, the project will include a landscaped rest area and walkway to the historic tunnel,” says Mr I’Anson.

“This will benefit the 2300 vehicles which travel this road, of which 20 per cent are heavy vehicles.”

The project is scheduled for completion in mid-2021.

Most of the work will take place away from the existing state highway, however, in the first few months there will be Stop/Go or traffic lights at either end of the construction site, to allow retaining walls to be built.

Meanwhile, safety improvements continue along this stretch of SH3, such as road widening, intersection improvements, passing opportunities, road realignments and work on slope stability.

“Safety of our contractors is our highest priority and we remind all motorists to slow down, and be patient while travelling through the work site during this time,” says Mr I’Anson.

Work continues on SH3 at Mt Messenger with property acquisition, environmental work, final design and stakeholder engagement progressing while awaiting a decision from the Environment Court.

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