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Published: 2002-09-26 00:00:00

Transport Minister Paul Swain was urged to ensure the completion of the State Highway 1 expressway when he visited Hamilton today for a briefing on transport issues for the Waikato Region.

The Minister visited Environment Waikato as part of a trip through the country learning about regional roading and transport issues.

The Regional Council and mayors in the Region confirmed the urgency of completion of the State Highway 1 by 2010 to address serious road safety issues.

They told the Minister that the Waikato has 9.7 percent of the country’s population, yet it records 20 percent of the road fatalities, most of them occurring on state highways.

The area has 25 percent of the county’s forestry industry, and half the New Zealand population in the combined Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty area, which put it in the middle of a corridor route with far more transport risks. The area also has between 12 and 15 percent of all heavy vehicles using its roads from the forestry, dairy and aggregate industries and waste transport.

Other issues discussed included State Highway 2 four laning, the replacement of the Kopu Bridge, east Taupo’s arterial route and passing lanes on State Highway 5.

The meeting raised the use of rail transport, barging, the Region’s road safety strategy and the national approach to include cycling and pedestrians in transport planning.

The Minister said he recognised the importance of the Regional corridor and the unique issues in the Region.

The Mayors highlighted the unanimous agreement to State Highway 1 and a way of working together to meet the needs of the Region, and thanked the Minister and Transit New Zealand for the work done to date.