Road users were treated to a great end to the week with the much-anticipated opening of the Hamilton Section of the Waikato Expressway overnight on Thursday 14 July.
On Tuesday, around 250 guests joined Kiingi Tuuheitia Pootatau Te Wherowhero VII and Transport Minister Michael Wood to cut the ribbon on the biggest roading project in the region’s history.
As part of the full Hamilton Section, five new interchanges – Northern (Lake Road), Resolution, Greenhill, Ruakura and Southern (Tamahere) – provide new ways for vehicles to get in and out of different areas of the city.
“This marks the final chapter of a 30-year roading project that will improve safety, reduce travel times, and boost economic growth,” Transport Minister Michael Wood said.
“It’s terrific to see the last 22km piece of the expressway falling into place.”
Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate said the opening of the Hamilton section was a “huge piece of the puzzle, finally in place”.
“It’s been a long journey to get to this point and for the city, I’m thrilled we are finally here,” she said.
“There is no doubt there will be significant safety and economic benefits for Hamilton and beyond that, but there are also other positives. Over time, given the plantings, the expressway will become a wonderful biodiversity corridor. And along the way, the journey also showcases some wonderful artwork that help tell a rich cultural history of our region.”
Now the Hamilton section is open, Hamilton City Council City Transport Unit Director Gordon Naidoo is reminding Hamiltonians that there will be some change in traffic volumes and patterns in the city, with new options to enter the city or bypass it completely.
“We know that there’s still a lot of traffic that has business to do in Hamilton and expect that these people may change where they enter and exit the city,” he said.
“Because of this, drivers, pedestrians, and people on bikes and scooters should stay alert and take care while using our roads and pathways – especially near the new interchanges into the city,” said Naidoo.
“New roads in Ruakura near the University of Waikato, the Resolution Drive extension, the completion of the Cobham Drive overpass and Hamilton’s Ring Road will all help manage traffic entering Hamilton.”
Naidoo also expects traffic flows to change at the Wairere Drive and Gordonton Road roundabout near the Greenhill Interchange.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of giving way and taking an extra look while using the intersection, while everyone gets used to their new way of getting around.”
Road users should also expect traffic management at the Ruakura and Resolution Drive connections over the next few weeks as finishing works on the berms are completed.
Council will continue to monitor traffic volumes and travel times throughout Hamilton using a series of vehicle detectors and Bluetooth sensors.
Now that the final section is complete, the full 102km expressway will reduce travel times between Auckland and Tirau by about 35 minutes for around 20,000 vehicles a day.