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Prime Minister starts final Western Ring Route project

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The final project linked to the NZ Transport Agency’s huge expansion of Auckland’s Northwestern Motorway (State Highway 16) was officially launched today by the Prime Minister, John Key.

Mr Key turned the first spade of soil marking the start of construction on the SH16 St Lukes to Great North Road Upgrade – a project to widen 2 kilometres of SH16, and upgrade the St Lukes overbridge spanning the motorway.

Also present at the ground breaking ceremony were Auckland’s deputy mayor, Penny Hulse, elders from Ngati Whatua O Orakei and Te Kawerau a Maki and community and transport leaders.      

The Transport Agency’s acting Highway Manager, Steve Mutton, says the upgrade is the last of six critical projects to ensure motorways and local roads are ready for the increased volume of traffic when the Waterview tunnels connecting the Northwestern and Southwestern (SH20) motorways are completed in early 2017. 

“The opening of the tunnels and connecting two busy motorways will have as big an impact on the way people travel around and through the city as the Auckland Harbour Bridge did 55 years ago when traffic started crossing it for the first time.” 

Mr Mutton says little time will be lost starting work on the $70m project.  Enabling works begin this Sunday night (18 May), and at the end of the month there will be 5 overnight closures that will have a significant impact on drivers using the Northwestern Motorway.

“This project may be small compared with its $1.4b neighbour just down the motorway at the Waterview tunnels, but the improvements are essential part of our programme to make the Northwestern Motorway and local roads better,” he says.

The SH16 St Lukes to Great North Road Upgrade, delivered by Leighton Contractors, will widen the motorway from three to four lanes in each direction, and improve motorway ramps.  As part of the project, Auckland Transport will fund improvements at the St Lukes Road-Great North Road intersection, and widen the St Lukes Road overbridge to benefit drivers, walkers and cyclists. 

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse describes the project as another milestone in providing transport choices for Aucklanders.

“It’s important we provide an integrated transport network with options including bus, train and ferry as well as cycling and walking to keep Auckland moving, and that’s an integral part of this project”, says Cr Hulse. “This upgrade will play a significant role in improving links between the west and the rest of Auckland and as a local councillor that is particularly welcome.”

St Lukes is the last of six projects to connect the Northwestern and Southwestern motorways and complete the Western Ring Route (WRR) – identified by the Government as one of its Roads of National Significance to help improve the economy and road safety. 

The other projects are New Zealand’s largest-ever roading project – the Waterview Connection and construction of its twin tunnels and a motorway-to-motorway interchange, the Causeway Upgrade Project, and improvements to the Te Atatu and Lincoln Road interchanges on the Northwestern.  Re-construction of the Maioro Street interchange (SH20) has been completed. 

There are two other works linked to the WRR. The first of a series of projects to better connect the northern end – the Upper Harbour Highway (SH18) at Albany – with the Northern Motorway (SH1) began in January, and options are being investigated to improve the Royal Road interchange on the Northwestern Motorway. 

The Western Ring Route will provide a 47km-long alternative to SH1 between Albany and Manukau.  It will provide more reliable city connections – particularly with developing commercial and residential areas in the northwest and southwest – and improve regional transport connections for people and freight.

“Today’s ground breaking event marks a symbolic ‘begninng of the end’ for those projects linked directly to the Waterview tunnels, but we are undertaking more improvements to our network to make it better for city and regional drivers,” Mr Mutton says.  

For more information please contact:

Ewart Barnsley
Auckland/Northland Media Manager
NZ Transport Agency

T: 09 928 8720
M: 027 213 7616
E: ewart.barnsley@nzta.govt.nz

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