Eastern Link nears halfway mark

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The Bay of Plenty's largest roading project is nearing the halfway mark.

The Tauranga Eastern Link is a $455 million project which is due to be finished in 2015 and the New Zealand Transport Agency which is overseeing the project says steady progress is being made. Transport Agency state highway manager Brett Gliddon said over the coming weeks drivers will see a lot of activity around Mangatawa and Domain Rd, with a number of traffic switches on to sections of new road planned for late October.

He said 6km of the eastern link was upgrading existing highway and motorists were already using part of the new road at Te Maunga which opened in July.

"The other 17km they will have to wait to use when the road officially opens."

Mr Gliddon says the region had waited for a long time for the link which would provide a safer and quicker journey from Te Maunga to Paengaroa. "This new tolled highway will improve the safety of motorists from Te Maunga to Paengaroa, enable freight movements from the east and central parts of the region to be more efficient due to the travel time savings and support future growth in the east."

The forecasted completion date for the project, which began in December 2010, was mid 2016. Mr Gliddon said steady progress meant the completion date could be moved forward to late 2015.

Eastern link to do list:

Two new interchanges - one at Mangatawa and the other at Domain Rd.

Build a new roundabout at Paengaroa.

Build two new overpasses at Parton Rd and Maketu Rd.

Landscaping, lighting and barriers.

Tauranga Eastern Link by the numbers:

The link will be 23km, four-lane median-divided highway.

More than 3 million cubic metres of earthworks will go into the project.

Seven bridges are included in the eastern link.

There's about 550,000 square metres of new road.

About 300,000 native plants will be planted.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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