Hamilton is set to get its seventh bridge as Hamilton City Council has awarded its biggest ever construction contract for the new transport network to open the Peacocke neighbourhood.
The $135 million project includes construction of a new bridge over the Waikato River and surrounding roads. Physical work is set to get under way in October, with the contract given to HEB Construction
Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate said the massive milestone reflected the strong commitment between partners to work together and prioritise the building of much-needed homes, as well as community facilities and the wider environment.
"This is about a new way of doing things. It's about building a vibrant new community and not just allowing for houses and roads," she said.
"This has been decades of planning and actually getting the work under way will fundamentally change the shape of the city and the way we get around. The new Waikato River bridge will be the new gateway into the city from the south. It provides a vital connection that opens up more housing, improves our regional connections and will support our central city.
"This milestone represents more than 30 years of hard work from many different groups, including past councils. This really is something to celebrate."
The work created will boost the local and regional economy which has suffered the impacts of Covid-19, Mayor Southgate said.
"HEB Construction has a large and long-term local presence in Hamilton and the Waikato. The contract includes significant use of local subcontractors and suppliers, so a big portion of the contract spend will be right here in the local economy and that's important.
"There's also an opportunity to upskill local people through training and apprenticeships on the job."
The wider Peacocke programme is estimated to bring in $6 billion of benefits to the city in the next 30 years.
A partnership with the Southern Links Tangata Whenua Working Group, which represents the interests of Waikato-Tainui and the four local hapu in the wider Southern Links project, had been crucial to progress, said Mayor Southgate.
"Working with mana whenua and others is a key part of our commitment to making sure Peacocke is more than just housing. We want a city based on a long-term, sustainable vision that future generations will be proud of."
Peacocke is the city's biggest ever investment in the environment, she said.
The project includes 15 hectares of gully restoration, around 30 wetland areas and more than 100,000 new native plants, in addition to landscaping for the roads themselves. Lighting and structural features on the bridge will minimise the impact on the native long-tailed bats and the surrounding environment both during construction, and when it is operational.
"Planned and sustainable growth is critical to the future success of our city and region. The start of this project is a significant moment in our city's history so I'm really excited."
Active and public transport options will be primary considerations for the new bridge and transport network in Hamilton's south.
Chairman of the Strategic Growth Committee, councillor Dave Macpherson, said right from the beginning alternative modes of transport were front of mind.
"In the past we've looked at roads as a place for cars, but they are so much more than that. In Peacocke we've made sure pedestrians, people on bikes and public transport options are a key part of our planning."
The plans include a network of underpasses, separated cycle paths and roads that prioritise buses and other public transport. These are anchored by the addition of a pedestrian bridge to make crossing the road safer and easier for people walking and cycling on the north-eastern side of the Waikato River.
"We're already seeing some of these elements come together in the Ohaupo Road (SH3) roundabout and Wairere/Cobham interchange which are currently being built, and I'm pleased to see this approach to transport become a feature of the Peacocke neighbourhood."
Construction of the new bridge and transport network is expected to be complete late 2023.