People are shaving up to 23 minutes off their daily commute between Cambridge and Hamilton using the new Cambridge Section of the Waikato Expressway, the NZ Transport Agency says.
Approximately 15,000 vehicles per day have been using the new road since it opened on December 16 last year.
The Transport Agency’s Hamilton highway manager, Kaye Clark, says monitoring over the last month has shown drivers are saving between 10 and 13 minutes each trip past Cambridge by not having to go through the town and get caught in queues.
“At peak travel times in the morning, north-bound traffic is saving 13 minutes off their journey and in the afternoon people travelling south have taken 10 minutes off their travel time,” Mrs Clark says.
“That’s up to 23 minutes a day on a round trip that people don’t have to spend sitting in their cars.
“Along with time savings this also saves people money on fuel, and shows the real benefits the Cambridge section of the Expressway is delivering for commuters in the Waikato.” Mrs Clark says.
The increase in traffic on the new road has meant the number of vehicles using the old road has also reduced considerably.
About 13,430 less vehicles are travelling on the old state highway north of Cambridge and about 8000 less vehicles are using the old road south of the town.
Along with reducing congestion in Cambridge, the 16km section is also making the trip considerably safer.
There have been two wire rope barrier strikes since the project opened to traffic, one near the Victoria Road interchange and one near the Northern interchange.
Mrs Clark says the strikes show the effectiveness of wire rope barriers in preventing serious crashes and saving lives.
“The cost of repairing a wire rope barrier is not insignificant – but it pales in comparison to the human and social costs that could have resulted from these crashes had the barrier not been in place,” she says.
A post-construction review of the Cambridge section will take place this year. The review will include noise monitoring, which will get under way in March.
“People living alongside the Expressway are telling us they can hear the traffic,” Mrs Clark says.
“With that in mind we have worked with the contractor, HEB Construction, to bring forward the date that the final, quieter seal will be put on the road.
“The final seal will significantly reduce traffic noise but can only be laid in warm weather and after the existing road surface has had time to bed in. This work will get under way in October, three months earlier than planned."
The Cambridge section of the Waikato Expressway opened to traffic on December 16 - six months ahead of schedule.
The $250 million project stretches from the Tamahere interchange on State Highway 1, to just south of Cambridge.
It includes eight bridges, walking and cycling paths, a number of artworks and 365,000 native and exotic plants planted along its length.
The project is one of seven sections of the $2.1 billion Waikato Expressway, a Road of National Significance (RoNS) identified by the Government as key to unlocking New Zealand’s economic potential.
Once complete, the Waikato Expressway will be the key transport corridor for the region, connecting Auckland to the agricultural and business centres of Waikato and Bay of Plenty. The entire 102 kilometre length is set to be open in 2020.
A time-lapse of the Karapiro Gully bridge being built (the largest bridge on the Waikato Expressway) can be found here: http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/waikato-expressway/cambridge/timelapses-and-webcam/(external link)
For more information go to www.nzta.govt.nz/waikatoexpressway(external link) or via Facebook - www.facebook.com/waikatoexpressway(external link)