It is only two years since the first sod was turned on the NZ Transport Agency's (NZTA) $30 million SH60 Ruby Bay Bypass project, but the ribbon has been cut on the new bypass has been officially - considerably earlier than scheduled.
NZTA State Highways Manager Rob Whight says the bypass, which will improve safety and efficiency along this section of SH60, was originally scheduled to open next year but the team have worked exceptionally hard and, despite the weather being challenging at times, the bypass was officially opened today.
Local iwi this morning performed a dawn blessing for the bypass they have named Te Mamaku Drive followed by an official ribbon cutting ceremony is being held in the morning. The road is expected to be opened to traffic at around 3pm to enable road users to take advantage of the new route for the long weekend.
As part of the official ceremony, a procession of more than 20 vintage cars were among the very first vehicles to travel the length of the new highway with Hon Nick Smith, West Coast / Tasman MP Chris Auchinvole, Tasman District Council Mayor Richard Kempthorne and NZTA Chief Executive Geoff Dangerfield as passengers.
Mr Whight says that although the new bypass itself is now open to traffic, the team still need to finish off some construction work around the road tie-ins at either end of the new road, as well as a few finishing touches elsewhere along the new highway, before the project is complete.
“This means there will still be some temporary speed restrictions in certain areas and, as with any new road, it will take a while for everyone to get used to the new layout - so we suggest people leave a little extra time and take care as they travel along the new route. They can also look at our website – www.nzta.govt.nz(external link) - for more information and details of the new road layout.”
NZTA advises that the new road has a chipseal surface which needs to cure for 12 months, so the team will be back next year to lay another layer of seal to further waterproof the road. The next resurfacing will then be in about 8-10 years time. The team will be back next year to complete the final areas of landscaping too.