Work on the long-awaited Hemo gorge roundabout is all but complete as the New Zealand Transport Agency waits on minor tidying up work and a $500,000 sculpture.
As a T-intersection, the site was previously ranked as the fourth riskiest in the country due to a high crash rate. So work on a $7.3 million roundabout began to reduce the risk of death and serious injury crashes, and provide safer cycling and pedestrian access.
The roadworks began in April 2016 but were delayed due to "soft ground in some areas, significant rainfall in autumn and the discovery or part of Rotorua's original water supply system".
Even then, on-road work was expected to be completed in October 2017.
Months later, a NZTA spokesperson said although the roundabout opened to traffic in September 2017, the project still wasn't officially complete.
"The final piece of tie-in work, access to Mokoia Drive, finished last week. The project will be officially complete once the sculpture and other tidying work is completed. This is expected to be later this year.
"The work was scheduled to finish in the middle of 2017 but soft ground in some areas, significant rainfall throughout the past 12 months, the discovery of part of Rotorua's original water supply system, a quarry closure, and delay in utilities relocations meant more time has been needed."
The contract for the project was for $7.3m though the exact cost won't be known until the project is officially finished.
A 12m sculpture is due to be installed at the site which is the southern entrance to the city.
The sculpture is being manufactured by Kilwell Fibretube at its Rotorua factory.
It was designed by an artist from the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute/Te Puia and will be created by 3D printers running for an average of 21 hours per day, seven days a week for 79 days.
Kilwell Fibretube chief executive Craig Wilson said work had been going for about a month and the company was working to have the sculpture installed around the end of August, weather permitting.
Rotorua Lakes Council arts and culture manager Stewart Brown said the estimated cost of the sculpture was $500,000.
He said roughly 60 sections or 14 per cent of the printing process had been completed.
Brown said the sculpture told the story of two supernatural deities Te Pupu (heat) and Te Hoata (fire) and their search for Ngatoroirangi, the great chief of the Te Arawa waka.
"Every aspect of the sculpture represents the strong culture, history and active environment of our district."
- Reduce deaths and serious injuries at the country's fourth riskiest intersection
- Provide cycling and pedestrian access
- Provide reliable journey times
- Enhance connectivity and integrate with the surrounding area and local roads
- Provide cycle and pedestrian access across the state highway and integrate it with the national cycleway
- Create a gateway to Rotorua
- Provide enhanced stormwater treatment