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Construction underway on Matahorua Gorge project

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Construction of the NZ Transport Agency’s SH2 Matahorua Gorge Realignment is officially underway today, nine months ahead of schedule and due to be completed in 2011.

Construction of the NZ Transport Agency’s SH2 Matahorua Gorge Realignment is officially underway today, nine months ahead of schedule and due to be completed in 2011.

NZTA Central Regional Director Jenny Chetwynd  joined Minister of Transport Steven Joyce this morning in turning the first sod on the project, which will provide a shorter, safer and more reliable route across the Matahorua Gorge.

The project has been advanced by the government’s Jobs and Growth stimulus package announced earlier this year, which also sees construction of the SH50 Hawke’s Bay Expressway Southern Extension being brought forward to later this month.

Ms Chetwynd says the realignment is the region’s largest roading project in recent years, and will provide a signficant economic boost for the region and beyond. The route is used extensively by logging trucks, farmers and other commercial transport operators, as well as being popular with tourists.

“The Matahorua Gorge is a lifeline for the Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne regions, and this project will benefit farmers, truckies, tourists and the local communities that rely on this important route.”

Ms Chetwynd says the 3.1km realignment involves the construction of a 150m viaduct and a “road over rail” overbridge. The realignment eases the sharp twists and turns of the existing route through the gorge, providing a straighter, shorter journey that will be safer, easier and more reliable for motorists.

“Not only will this realignment shave valuable minutes off journey times for motorists, it will save them petrol, reduce the risk of crashes, and will be much less vulnerable to weather-related delays and closures.

“We’ve also been able to save millions of dollars on the project thanks to the innovative and cost effective design of the viaduct proposed by our contractor Downer EDi Works. This means the project will be cheaper and faster to build than we initially envisaged, while retaining all of its benefits.”

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule has expressed his delight the project is underway.

“It is great to see this strategic investment in Hawke’s Bay roads. Many Hawke’s Bay people pass through the gorge on the way to and from Wairoa and Gisborne.” Mayor Yule says.

Ms Chetwynd said the local community and iwi had been supportive of the project since its inception, and getting construction underway early would be welcome news..

She said the scheduled completion of the project in 2011 is a quick turnaround for a project of this magnitude.  Disruption to motorists during construction is expected to be minimal.

For more information, photos or a diagram of the new alignment please contact:

Anthony Frith
Communications Adviser
027 309 8725   
anthony.frith@nzta.govt.nz

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