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Event to celebrate completion of SH2 Watchman Road improvements

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Locals are being offered a sneak preview of the new Watchman Road Intersection this Sunday afternoon, with a special event to celebrate the completion of the important local roading project.

Photo credit: Peter Scott

The Watchman Road causeway will be accessible from 1.30pm-4pm on Sunday 16 September, and will give the community a chance to walk or cycle the road before it is officially open on Monday 24 September.

The New Zealand Transport Agency’s Systems Manager Wayne Oldfield is encouraging locals to come along to the event with their questions and have them answered by those directly involved in the project.

“The previous intersection was among the most high-risk intersections in New Zealand and had been identified as a black spot,” Mr Oldfield says.

“Working in partnership with the Napier City Council and Hawke’s Bay Airport we’ve made significant improvements, including a new roundabout at the intersection, the widening and strengthening of Watchman Road, and a new airport access road. These will provide a safer and more efficient intersection, and improve access to both the airport and the Napier Port.

“As well as a chance to celebrate the completion of these improvements, the event is a way we can thank locals for their patience and cooperation throughout the construction period.”

People will also be able to experience the new cycling and walking paths and find out more about the adjacent Ahuriri Estuary and Westshore Wildlife Reserve.

Environmental consultant Tony Billing says a key focus of the project was to ensure the protection and enhancement of the Westshore Wildlife Reserve wetland and the biodiversity that utilises it, so it’s fitting that the open day falls on the second day of Conservation Week.

“As part of the environmental mitigation measures associated with this project, a large portion of land at the southern end of the Westshore Wildlife Reserve has been converted into a scrape lake,” Mr Billing says. 

“Already we’ve observed increased wildlife activity in the area and the birdlife is thriving. This environment will continue to be monitored beyond the opening of the road.”

When the new road opens on Monday 24 September, access to Hawkes Bay Airport will be via the Watchman Road causeway. From this time, the existing access to the airport off Main North Road will be closed.

Drivers are advised to allow extra time for travel in the area as road users get used to the new layout.

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