A new motorway is being constructed near Hamilton, coming into the city from the north; many kilometres are near completion, mainly to the east and then to the west of the existing SH1. When is this new stretch due to open? On it, what are significant or interesting engineering/design, construction or environmental features, big bridges, etc? I hope there will be an opportunity for the public to walk or cycle over the new road before general traffic - if so, any date or a website for information or updates?
Michael Hamilton, West Harbour.
First of all, an overview of the Waikato Expressway, as the new motorway is called.
The 102km stretch will run from the Bombay Hills to just south of Cambridge.
It will be a continuous divided four-lane highway all the way, and should cut travel times between Auckland and Tirau by 35 minutes.
Several sections of the expressway are already open (Pokeno to Mercer, Ohinewai and the Tamahere interchange) and the whole project is scheduled to be completed by 2019.
The Hamilton section is currently being investigated and designed. It will take SH1 east of the city, to connect the Ngaruawahia section with the Tamahere interchange deviation just south of Hillcrest, and is due for completion in 2019.
Another major change to the route south from Auckland begins just north of Huntly.
The new route will head east and then south, away from the river, and will cut through the Taupiri Ranges, thus bypassing Taupiri Mountain and its sacred sites, and Ngaruawahia.
Just north of Hamilton, near Te Rapa, a new road will take Hamilton-bound traffic directly into the city.
This will require a new bridge across the Waikato River, the first to be built for many years, and as yet to be named.
Unfortunately, Mr Hamilton, because of my tardiness in responding to your question, you have missed the chance to be part of a family fun run and community open day held on December 1 to celebrate the early completion of the Te Rapa section of the expressway.
It provided a chance for people to walk or run on the 8km stretch before it opened to traffic on December 3.