The Waikato Expressway is nearing completion, with the opening of the Longswamp section in December, and the Huntly section set to open in February, leaving just the Hamilton section to complete.
Two days of celebrations are planned to mark the completion of the Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway in February.
The 15km four-lane highway takes State Highway 1 east of Huntly, across lowlands and over the Taupiri Range.
It will bring major improvements in safety and efficiency, taking traffic away from the congestion point through Huntly, which has a poor safety record.
The two days of stakeholder and public events begin on Friday February 14 with a blessing of the site by iwi followed by a formal stakeholder event, ribbon-cutting and lunch on the highway, near Te Iringa Lagoon, which is adjacent to the highway about 4km from the southern end.
The following day the project will be open to the public to walk, run, cycle and bus along the new road, which connects the completed expressway sections at Ohinewai in the north and the Ngaruawahia section at Gordonton Road in the south.
"It has been a remarkable journey by all involved in this project," says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency acting director regional relationships Ross I'Anson.
"We are expecting a good turnout on both days in February and are planning for two very memorable occasions."
A highlight on Saturday is the Expressway Classic half-marathon, starting near the lagoon and providing an out-and-back course over Taupiri Range to the Northern Interchange. There are shorter races for runners and walkers from the same start point.
These events will start from 7am. Less competitive people can walk, run or cycle the route at their leisure, or take a bus ride from mid-morning when most athletes will have finished.
Part of the project's Cultural Symbolism Plan has seen two pā sites restored just off the route, and people will be able to takes shuttle buses to these.
"Without a strong relationship with Waikato-Tainui we could not have got this road built in such a culturally significant area, and that relationship has developed further as the project has progressed from planning to construction."
The Huntly section is part of the 102km four-laning of SH1 from Bombay to south of Cambridge, which will be completed when the Hamilton section opens in late 2021.
The $409 million Huntly section has been delivered by a Fulton Hogan-HEB joint venture for the Transport Agency.
It will open to traffic sometime after the completion events.