New $5.1m section of SH2 now open

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A $5.1 million new section of State Highway 2 at Athenree Gorge has officially opened.

Representatives from local iwi Ngai Te Rangi, Coromandel MP Scott Simpson and Western Bay of Plenty District Council Deputy Mayor Gwenda Merriman attended the formal opening yesterday.

The event included a blessing of the road, a speech by Mr Simpson and a performance by the Katikati College kapa haka group.

The NZ Transport Agency project started in March 2013 and was carried out in two stages.

The work involved realigning the bends of the road which had a high crash rate.

The Transport Agency Bay of Plenty highway manager Brett Gliddon said: "removing the set of bends reduces the risk of drivers cornering incorrectly and crashing".

"We have constructed a new, straighter section of road. About 90,000 cubic metres of material was removed from the site and the level of the road lowered by about three metres.

It is expected to provide safer travel between Katikati and Waihi".

The project also involved working closely with the Western Bay of Plenty District Council to improve a section of Athenree Road and its approach to the state highway.

This project is part of the Transport Agency's commitment to making state highways safer by creating a more forgiving road system, which is increasingly free of death and serious injury.

Mr Gliddon said that temporary speed management is still in place as some final work is carried out and thanks drivers, and the community, for their patience during this project.

Mr Gliddon also thanked the Western Bay of Plenty District Council, project consultants Opus Consultants of Tauranga and contractors Downer for delivering the project.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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