Waikato mayors and chief executives met yesterday to find a way to make progress on the State Highway One Expressway.
The Mayoral Task Group has been looking at a number of options and various funding mechanisms to get the project completed. Environment Waikato has been working with consultants on the constraining issues, including money, consents and land purchase, and running a variety of scenarios for getting the job done.
The Mayoral Task Group looked at all the information available and reviewed the comprehensive analysis of the options before recommending an option to take back to their own councils for consideration and endorsement.
The proposed option, based on robust information and the assistance of Transit New Zealand, is in two stages. Stage One, from 2002 to 2012 includes completing Mercer to Longswamp to four lanes, constructing Longswamp to Rangiriri as a three lane interim solution, with a bypass of Rangiriri to two lane standard and completing to south of Ohinewai to four lanes.
Construction from South of Ohinewai to Taupiri would be deferred. The Huntly internal bypass and minor safety improvements north of Taupiri would be constructed as soon as possible.
Taupiri to Horotiu would be constructed to four lanes, Horotiu to Discombe Rd deferred with an internal bypass to the rail route and Avalon Drive bypass, and Cambridge bypass constructed to two lane standard.
Stage Two, between 2012 to 2022, would include upgrade of the rest of the project to four lane standard.
This proposed option recognises the funding constraints and identifies work that can be done quickly, is done as soon as possible. It also means the internal traffic improvements needed in Hamilton are underway while the main corridor is being developed. Tolling and alternative funding options were considered, however investigations showed it was not viable for this project.
The Mayoral Group will seek the extra revenue required from Transfund to complete the project, and the continued protection of the corridor as a priority for Transit.
“We have run every possible scenario on how to make this project fly. We all want the same thing, and what we are working on is not a wish list. We are working on a solution that is viable to keep this project moving,” said Deputy Chair Jenni Vernon.
Waikato District Council Mayor Peter Harris said the councils appreciated the extensive work done so far on the Expressway.
Hamilton Mayor David Braithwaite said: “What we are all working towards is a solution that is going to work. It is pointless spending time and energy on something that is not viable.”