Transport Minister Phil Twyford today with Māori King Tuheitia Pōtatau Te Wherowhero VII officially opened the country’s newest road, the $384 million Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway.
The 15km four-lane highway with side and central safety barriers takes State Highway 1 east of Huntly town, across lowlands and streams and over Taupiri Range, which is sacred to Waikato-Tainui.
Phil Twyford said the Waikato Expressway was a key driver of growth in the region.
“This section opening will improve safety and help grow the local economy by improving the link for businesses and tourists between Auckland and Hamilton.
“Once completed, the Waikato Expressway is expected to reduce travel times by 35 minutes between the Bombay Hills and south of Cambridge.
“With the Huntly section opening and final surfacing currently underway on the Longswamp section, there is just one remaining piece in the 102km expressway project – the 22km Hamilton section – due for completion late next year.
“I’d like to acknowledge the role of local marae and Waikato-Tainui in the success of this project. This is a very culturally significant area and I know that NZTA found the Tangata Whenua Working Group’s guidance invaluable.
“As part of our NZ Upgrade Programme, we’re also building a roundabout at the intersection of SH1/SH29, which will improve safety at one New Zealand’s most dangerous intersections. This will future proof the extension of the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to Piarere.
“Our Government is also supporting development in Auckland’s southern growth corridor through the Hamilton to Auckland commuter rail service, which will start mid-year,” Phil Twyford said.