Waikato Expressway

The New Zealand (NZ) Transport Agency board has approved NZD$1.08bn ($781m) to fund construction of the Hamilton and Longswamp sections of the Waikato Expressway.

The NZ Transport Agency Waikato and Bay of Plenty regional director Harry Wilson said the approval meant that all seven sections of the expressway will be built, under construction or out to tender by the end of 2015.

"The expressway is a vital piece of infrastructure, which will cut travel times between Auckland and Tirau by up to 35min, significantly improve safety by preventing serious crashes, increase highway capacity and make a major contribution to our country’s economic growth," Wilson said.

The New Zealand Government has identified the expressway as a key project to unlock economic growth.

Work will now begin on preparing the tender documents for the NZD972.94m ($703m) Hamilton and N$115.09m ($83m) Longswamp sections with construction of both projects expected to get underway in 2016.

"This project is a major contributor to economic prosperity, not only for our region but for New Zealand."

Claimed to be the complex sections of the expressway, the 21.8km Hamilton section and the 15.2km Huntly sections are expected to bring benefits in terms of travel time savings and safety.

The Hamilton section will connect to the Ngaruawahia section completed in 2013 and to the Cambridge section due for completion in 2016. The Longswamp section will span 5.9km and connect to the Rangiriri section and the completed Mercer section.

Work on the NZD458m ($331m) Huntly section is expected to begin in September and the tender process on the other two sections is slated for commencement over the next eight months.

The transport agency, Waikato District Council, Hamilton City Council and Tainui Group will finalise the multi-party funding agreements for the Hamilton section.

The agreements outline the way interchanges will connect to the local road network, particularly around Ruakura and Rototuna.

Hamilton City Council mayor Julie Hardaker said the completion of the Expressway would deliver long-term benefits to the Waikato and to Hamilton.

"This project is a major contributor to economic prosperity, not only for our region but for New Zealand."

Extending from the State Highway 1 and 2 intersection at the base of the Bombay hills, the expressway will provide 102km of continuous divided four-lane highway.

Being built in seven sections, it is set for opening in 2019.

Image: The Waikato Expressway has been identified as key to unlocking the country’s potential for economic growth. Photo: courtesy of NZ Transport Agency.