Waikato to benefit from National roading package
Two of the Waikato's major roading networks will be upgraded to four lanes under a multibillion-dollar National Party package announced on Sunday.
Highways between Cambridge and Tirau and between Piarere and the base of the Kaimai Ranges are two of the 10 highways included in the $10.5 billion plans that will be implemented if the party is returned to power come September.
The vision, announced by Transport Minister Simon Bridges on Sunday, is on top of an estimated $12b invested into the seven initial roads being built under the party's Roads of National Significance programme.
The upgrades to State Highway 1 between Cambridge and Tirau and along SH29 to Tauranga will open up economic links between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga - known as the Golden Triangle - Hamilton East MP David Bennett said following the announcement on Sunday.
It will also knock off travel time between towns in the region.
"This is excellent news for the Waikato and exceptionally important for the Waikato - and Hamilton in particular - to move ahead," he said from Turangawaewae Marae.
"We recently announced the Cambridge to Piarere route and this adds to that - taking it to Tirau for one new road of National Significance. The other road will be from Piarere to the foot of the Kaimais."
The plan includes making SH1 four lanes from the current end of the Waikato Expressway just south of Cambridge through Piarere to Tirau.
Doing so will reduce the travel time from Auckland to Tirau by 40 minutes, Bennett said.
"That takes a fair chunk of time off that, with the Expressway."
State Highway 29 between Piarere, the Matamata district and the base of the Kaimai Ranges - the main route between Hamilton and Tauranga - will also become four lanes, two lanes in each direction.
An estimated 9000 vehicles, including 1300 trucks, travel over the Kaimai Ranges each day, Bennett said.
"It will be really significant in opening up the South Waikato and into Tauranga and Rotorua. It's crucial for the next stage for Hamilton's development.
"Fundamentally it is to unlock economic growth and link the productive base of the Waikato with the Port of Tauranga."
Initial funding would come from the infrastructure investment of $32.5b, announced in Budget 2017, and the next stage of transport funding, including public and private partnerships, Bennett said.
Once the original projects were completed, new projects could come about - which would be funded by existing revenue sources.
"They're keeping it as a general figure of the $10.5b for costs at the moment."
As well as four-laning, the highway will feature wider lanes, sealed shoulders and high-quality signage.
"The completed Roads of National Significance are also our safest, with no road fatalities to date," Bridges said.