Residents are worried traffic chaos will hit the Tamahere section of the Waikato Expressway next week when a southbound section of SH1 will close for six weeks to allow work to be done linking the existing highway to the new section.
From Tuesday October 1, traffic will be diverted down the Tamahere Interchange south-bound off-ramp, through the Tauwhare Road roundabout and up the south-bound on-ramp back to SH1.
However, the detour plan is causing distress for Tamahere residents, who are also facing a year's delay in the completion of the new Hamilton expressway, which is not expected to be completed until late 2021.
Tamahere resident Paul Reynolds said the detour looked like a recipe for chaos, while Margaret McLean said the detour was definitely a nightmare and she would find an alternative route.
NZTA Waikato System Manager Karen Boyt said commuters should expect delays during morning and evening peak traffic periods, with traffic management on site.
"These works are part of the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway. The detour will allow our contractors to work on State Highway 1 where it connects to the new expressway," Boyt said.
"The first two weeks of works coincide with the school holidays when traffic volumes are traditionally lower. Our contractors will endeavour to finish works as quickly as possible to minimise disruption to road users," she said.
Along with the detour on SH1, State Highway 3 will also be operating under stop/go traffic control at the Dixon Street intersection in Hamilton over two nights in the week beginning September 30.
This will result in restrictions for overdimension vehicles on both State Highway 1 at Tamahere and State Highway 3 at the Dixon Street intersection on those nights.
National MP for Hamilton East David Bennett said while the Tamahere detour was always expected, the delay on the completion of the Hamilton section of SH1 continued to be disappointing.
"It's completely unacceptable that that part of the expressway is now not expected to open until late 2021, a year on from when it was supposed to be opened," Bennett said.
"The excuses that have been given relate to weather, but the Huntly section is set to open on time and that had the same weather. It's a reflection of the lack of infrastructure investment in the region."
Bennett said the Tamahere section of the expressway was always going to be a complicated process as there were no flyovers.
"I think NZTA are doing as well as they can there, because they have to put a flyover and intersection in there."
"The main thing is the now two-year delay, which is unacceptable."
Labour list MP Jamie Strange said that while there had been a push back on the opening of the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway, the section from Ngaruawahia north to Auckland was on track for a complete opening next year.
"This Government has put the four-laning highways on hold, but that does not mean we are not investing in roads," Strange said.
"The Huntly section will open early next year, and we are also putting focus into bringing up the safety standards of other roads in the region." (-Waikato News)