Work due to start on part of Waikato Expressway

JENNA LYNCH
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2013

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Work is due to begin this week on the latest section of expressway linking Auckland and Hamilton.

Industry giant Fletcher Construction has won the $105 million contract to build the 4.8km Rangiriri section of the Waikato Expressway, a project described by NZ Transport Agency project manager Richard Young as "great news for the Waikato".

"Along with improving safety and reducing travel times, this particular section of the Waikato Expressway also provides the NZTA with a unique opportunity to acknowledge Rangiriri's cultural and historical significance," he said.

There would be minor delays during the three-year construction but drivers would not notice much change until about Easter, Mr Young said.

"We're pretty confident we won't disrupt too many drivers for too long," he said.

Rangiriri was the site of the historic 1863 battle of Rangiriri, part of the New Zealand land wars. It is also one of the areas where it was announced King Potatau would be the first Maori King.

Mr Young said the project will realign the current State Highway 1 to the west, near the Waikato River, avoiding the historic sites of the Rangiriri Pa and battle trench.

"Preserving the historical features of Rangiriri is an important priority for the agency in partnership with tangata whenua," he said.

The NZTA had been working closely with the Rangiriri and Te Kauwhata communities as well as Waikato Tainui to ensure awareness.

NZTA was aware of the risk of flooding in the area and in reaction the project will feature embankments along the road to prevent damage, he said.

The section, expected to be complete by late 2016, includes an interchange at the intersection of State Highway 1 and Te Kauwhata Rd and an interchange at Rangiriri. The project will provide for two lanes of traffic in each direction, divided by a central barrier.

Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson says the construction of Rangiriri brings the region one step closer to completing the entire expressway.

"It's great to see another piece of the puzzle falling into place with the start of work at Rangiriri. The construction of this section brings us another step closer to the completion of this vital transport link," he said.

Meanwhile, the run is about to get easier for city motorists, with the opening of the newest section of the Hamilton Ring Road today.

The opening of this final 600m of road marks the completion of the 3.5km section of Wairere Dr from Crosby Rd through to Ruakura Rd.

City Development acting unit manager Martin Mould said he was pleased with how the project had gone and was looking forward to the public enjoying the new stretch of road.

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"It's great to see this section of Wairere Drive open and I know Hamilton residents will be very pleased also because it will make getting around a whole lot easier for them," he said.

"This is a busy part of the city and the full opening of this stretch of Wairere Drive will greatly improve traffic flows through the eastern part of our city, which includes many schools and the university."

- Waikato Times

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