The Bay of Plenty's largest ever roading project has moved a step closer to reality with the official start of construction on the Tauranga Eastern Link.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce today marked the beginning of the five year construction programme by turning the first sod on site this morning in Papamoa.
NZTA Regional Director Harry Wilson says this morning’s sod turning marks a significant milestone in delivering a strategically vital new transport link for the region.
“The Bay of Plenty region needs the Tauranga Eastern Link. It will improve economic efficiency by reducing travel times, improve safety for road users, and provide employment and access for new development. This project will deliver real benefits to the region and to the country,” says Mr Wilson.
“The beginning of construction is an opportunity to acknowledge everyone who has contributed to getting this project to this point. This includes elected officials, planners, engineers as well as the tangata whenua and the public whose support has been vital in the early start of construction.
The four-lane Tauranga Eastern Link will run from Te Maunga (near Baypark Stadium) in Tauranga to the existing junction of State Highways 2 and 33 (the Rotorua and Whakatane highways) near Paengaroa. It will be made up of 17km of new road and an upgrade of six kilometres of existing highway. The project was tendered early this year and this month was awarded to a Fulton Hogan HEB Construction Alliance.
The Government has identified seven essential state highway projects linked to New Zealand’s economic prosperity. Called the roads of national significance, or RoNS for short, the NZTA is charged with delivering this programme of state highway improvements within the next 10 years. The RoNS programme represents one of New Zealand’s biggest ever infrastructure investments and is a key part of the Government’s National Infrastructure Plan and Government’s Policy Statement for transport.
The seven RoNS projects are based around New Zealand's five largest population centres. The focus is on moving people and freight between and within these centres more safely and efficiently. Other RoNS may be added in future but currently from north to south the seven projects are: Puhoi to Wellsford - SH1, Completing the Western Ring Route, Auckland - SH16, SH18 and SH20, Victoria Park Tunnel, Auckland - SH1, Waikato Expressway - SH1, Tauranga Eastern Link - SH2, Wellington Northern Corridor - SH1, Christchurch Motorways. More information is available at www.nzta.govt.nz/rons