The Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway reached a milestone today with the official opening of Koura Drive by Hamilton City Mayor, Julie Hardaker.
New Zealand Transport Agency, Waikato Expressway Principal Project Manager, Richard Young says today’s event was recognition of how the NZ Transport Agency and Hamilton City Council are working together to ensure the Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway is fully future-proofed and integrated into the Council’s and the Waikato region’s long-term development plans.
Mr Young says the positioning of the Koura Drive interchange is being driven by the city’s long-term growth plan for the Rotokauri area.
“The opening of Koura Drive ensures the Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway is fully-future-proofed and integrated into the Hamilton City Council’s and the Waikato region’s long term development plans,” Mr Young says.
Mr Young says the Te Rapa section includes two local road under-bridges designed to incorporate urban growth in the Rotokauri area and provides part of a future Hamilton northern arterial route.
Dedicated shared pedestrian and cyclist paths are also being provided along considerable lengths of the section. “This will link the future residential areas on the east of the Expressway to the development areas on the west,” Mr Young says.
Mr Young says the $194 million project is running six months ahead of schedule.
Hamilton Mayor, Julie Hardaker says, the project is a significant development for Hamilton’s growth.
“This Expressway is vital infrastructure for our city and for economic growth in the region. With the city’s growth continuing at a fast rate, the Waikato Expressway will be crucial in ensuring smooth traffic flow in and around Hamilton.”
The opening of the Koura Drive is the first of three stages in the lead up to officially opening the entire 7.3km Te Rapa section in early December.
The three stages include:
The Waikato Expressway sections are currently at the stages described below:
The Waikato Expressway will provide for two lanes of traffic in each direction divided by a central barrier with local roads and interchanges generally serviced by bridges and underpasses. From the Bombay Hills to South of Cambridge it will be 102km, some 6km shorter than the current State Highway 1.
The Government has identified seven essential state highways that are linked to New Zealand’s economic prosperity, called the Roads of National Significance. The NZTA is charged with delivering this programme of state highway improvements within the next 10 years. This 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 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. The projects are 'lead infrastructure' – meaning they encourage economic growth rather than simply responding to it. 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(external link).