The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZ Transport Agency) has launched the Eastern Corridor Stage 1 project that involves improving the road network in and around the city of Rotorua.

The programme commenced with construction work on the NZD17m ($10.88m) transport project along State Highway 30/Te Ngae Road.

Under the Te Ngae Road project, work to create four lanes of a section of the highway between Allen Mills and Iles roads will be carried out along with upgrade works at the Tarawera roundabout.

Work also includes renovating the SH30/Sala Street intersection, building 3.5km of new shared paths, undergrounding the overhead powerlines, as well as deploying new water mains.

Construction work is expected to be completed in 18 months.

NZ Transport Agency Relationships regional acting director Ross I’Anson said: “Key intersections along this corridor will be much safer and easier to navigate, and more convenient routes for people on bikes and on foot will help encourage people to get out of their cars and onto alternative modes of transport.

“This project is also creating new recreational opportunities for people of all ages and abilities and building connections into other parts of Rotorua.”

Overall, the project work is part of the larger NZD24m ($15.37m) Connect Rotorua programme that seeks to transform the central and eastern corridors in the region in collaboration with the Rotorua Lakes Council.

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said: “It’s very pleasing to see the first stage of work getting underway. Te Ngae Road is a critical transport corridor for both Rotorua and the wider region, and this work is also vitally important to help unlock the huge potential of our eastern suburbs.

“The overall programme of improvements will have a big impact on work we are undertaking to increase housing, improve safety and liveability of our communities and sustain and grow our economy.”