State Highway 2 traffic will be switched onto the new Mangatawhiri Deviation on Friday in the lead up to the road being completed and officially opened.
NZ Transport Agency regional manager Kaye Clark says the wider safety impacts of the project being completed are especially significant.
"The 7km expressway completes a road safety upgrade on a section of SH2 once notorious for serious head-on crashes, often involving multiple fatalities. Now it has been replaced by a wider, straighter section of road that provides safe passing opportunities and removes a windy section of SH2," she said.
Mrs Clark says that a 70km/hr limit will be put in place for a few days to allow the new chip seal surface to bed in completely and for road users to get used to the new alignment. Some road sweeping may be required to remove excess chip, and speeds need to be kept down, she said.
Once traffic is moved onto the Mangatawhiri Deviation finishing works for the project that can only be undertaken when the traffic is no longer using the existing state highway will be commence.
At the western tie in, the temporary ramp currently being used by westbound traffic on the existing highway will be removed. This includes excavation of the ramp to complete the final swales in the region and removal of the pavement - which will be reinstated with topsoil and grass. At the eastern tie in (Link Road) an island within the existing highway will be constructed, along with associated signage to direct traffic onto the Mangatawhiri Deviation from the existing highway. There will also be a number of private entranceways constructed off the existing highway. These works may take several weeks to complete said Mrs Clark.
An opening event to mark the completion of the project is being held at the Maramarua Golf club on Wednesday 17 December. Minister of Transport Hon. Steven Joyce will officially open the road together with Franklin District Council Mayor Mark Ball. Local iwi from the Mangatangi Marae and school children from Mangatangi, Mangatawhiri and Maramarua schools will also play a part in the ceremony.
Mrs Clark said it was wonderful to be able to deliver a safer, more functional highway for all road users, especially the local community. State Highway 2 road users and especially the local community deserved a special word of thanks for enduring considerable inconvenience during the past few months.
"The cooperation and support of landowners, community leaders and the farming community has been critical in completing this project," she said.
Permanent signage is in place to direct traffic.
Access to Mangatawhiri will be either by the sign posted off-ramp at the western end of the project (for eastbound traffic) or by way of the Koheroa off-ramp (for Westbound traffic).
Access to the Maramarua Golf Club for eastbound traffic will be by way of the deceleration lane and exit what’s the exit called? at the eastern end of the project. Drivers will need to use the underpass under the new Deviation and roundabout to gain access to the golf club.
Access to the Maramarua Golf Club for westbound traffic will be by way of the Golf Course off-ramp at the eastern end of the project.
Access to the Mangatawhiri Deviation for locals travelling to Auckland will only be available by way of the Koheroa on-ramp.
Access to the Mangatawhiri Deviation for locals travelling eastward will only be available at the eastern end of the project by way of the Link Road.
The existing westbound SH2 lane will become a dead end, however this is clearly signposted and a turn around area has been constructed if drivers take the wrong way.
There is no entry to the Mangatawhiri Deviation at Bell Road for either direction of traffic. There is also no way to gain entry to the new Deviation to travel east at the Koheroa Interchange.
A diagram of the Mangatawhiri Deviation is attached.