Improvements to the safety of State Highway 5, Tarukenga to Ngongotahā, and to congestion at the existing SH5/SH36 roundabout will get under way from Monday.
The $14 million project is part of the regional package of the NZ Upgrade Programme announced in 2020.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency director of regional relationships Steve Mutton said the regional package wasn't just about delivering key infrastructure projects, but keeping everyone moving, boosting productivity and saving lives.
"This project will greatly improve safety along this busy stretch of SH5 and improve access through the roundabout – the western gateway to Rotorua," he said.
The safety improvements project covers just over 8km of state highway, starting in the west near Tarukenga and ending at the SH5/SH36 roundabout.
Improvements include widening SH5 to allow for a new wide centreline, sections of flexible median safety barrier, roadside barriers, rumble strips and shortening the existing passing lane so vehicles can merge safely.
Work will begin with clearing trees and vegetation, and, in some locations, fences inside the road boundary will be relocated. Where the road is being widened, topsoil will be moved beside the road and extra material brought in.
"People can expect a busy few months through this area," Mutton said.
"There will be temporary speed limits and traffic signs in place throughout the construction period. Please slow down for your safety, and that of other road users and our team on the ground."
Waka Kotahi will continue to update the community on the works, including when there are road closures or detours in place. The focus will be on ensuring two lanes remain open for traffic, unless it is not practicable or safe.
The project is expected to take 12 months to complete.
Traffic impacts – what's happening and when
• Contractors will be on site from Monday, January 18, 2021.
• The first stage of the roundabout construction (widening of SH5/SH36) begins the week commencing January 25.
• The SH5/SH36 free flow lane will be closed to westbound (Tirau/Hamilton) traffic leaving Rotorua. All westbound traffic will need to use the existing roundabout for this turn.
• After the road widening is complete, the next stage will involve closing the existing roundabout and opening the Western Rd detour.
• Various sections of state highway will be widened between Tupapakura Bridge and the SH5/SH36 roundabout throughout project construction.