Construction has started on a $35m project to upgrade the Papakura interchange on Auckland's Southern Motorway (State Highway 1) after a ceremony this morning to mark the start of work.
The improvements are aimed at allowing for the future growth in Papakura and Karaka in the next 20 years and improving safety for all road users.
"This project is a vital one for the community to ensure that the future transport needs of the area, particularly Hingaia and Karaka are met" says the NZTA's State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker. "This is a busy interchange, and one that will get busier, and the improvements will increase safety - not just for drivers, but for walkers and cyclists."
The project will include a new 3 lane 16.8 metre wide bridge over the motorway which will include a shared pedestrian and cycle path, an additional northbound on-ramp at Hilldene Road, and traffic signals at key intersections.
Local iwi led by Ngati Tamaoho and community leaders joined the NZTA and its contractor, HEB Construction, at this morning's event. Auckland City Councillor for Papakura, Calum Penrose, took control of a digger to turn the project's first sod.
The project is due to be completed in December 2013, and one of the most significant improvements will impact on drivers from Karaka, who will no longer need to cross on-coming traffic to get onto the motorway northbound. .
"It's a challenging job making improvements in the middle of a busy interchange, and we will be doing everything we can to keep disruptions to a minimum. Drivers will be travelling through a live worksite and we ask them to take care for the safety of themselves and their passengers, and for those working to upgrade the interchange," says Mr Parker.