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Published: 2002-03-06 00:00:00

Environment Waikato and Waikato Mayors and Chief Executives have formed a task group to drive progress on the stalled State Highway One expressway.

In a meeting today co-ordinated by Environment Waikato, the Regional Council, and the Mayors of four city and district councils formed a group to ensure that plans for the expressway were stepped up.

There was unanimous agreement that work on the stalled Mercer to Longswamp section of the expressway restart – a message that was also firmly delivered to Transport Minister Mark Gosche at a Regional Land Transport Committee meeting on Monday. The group believes the cost of delaying the section is too much, both in financial cost and lives lost.

The group includes the mayors and Chair and chief executives of Environment Waikato, Hamilton City and Waikato, Franklin and Waipa district councils on the state highway route. Environment Waikato Chairman Neil Clarke referred to the progress that had been achieved so far.

“While the group acknowledges the good work of Transit to date, a commitment relative to the Long Swamp to Mercer troubled section is critical.

Hamilton City Council representative Tony Maryatt reported that the task group supported the Transit timetable for Rangiriri to south of Ohinewai and Taupiri to Horotiu sections of the expressway, however he stressed that the route was strategic, and the group therefore wanted construction to be continuous and not piecemeal.

The group will be discussing the timetable of the remaining sections with Transit New Zealand in the longer term following the satisfactory outcome of the Long Swamp to Mercer section.