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Hamilton road links get council nod

Five planned connection points between Hamilton roads and a soon-to-be-built expressway have won council support.

Getting the right links to the $972m Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway is vital, city leaders say.

There are five significant interchanges on the Hamilton section: a northern interchange south of Ngaruawahia, Resolution Dr, Greenhill, Ruakura and a southern interchange near Tamahere.

Hamilton City Council's strategy and policy committee on Wednesday lent its support to the NZ Transport Agency's connection plan.

The committee also supported extending Resolution Dr to meet the interchange.

Mayor Julie Hardaker said the timing was right to get the city connected to the expressway.

"It's really important that we get these roading connections right and now's the time to be discussing them and confirming where they're going to go."

There were opportunities to partner with NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) and undertake projects at the same time, she said.

NZTA confirmed funding for the expressway section earlier in April and work is expected to get underway before the end of the year.

Meanwhile the northern end of the city was developing fast, giving extra relevance to the Resolution Dr interchange, Hardaker said.

"It's a really important connection for the north of the city but also as part of the whole roading network into the city, and with the new high school being developed up that way."

The Resolution Dr interchange will have north-facing ramps, there will be full interchanges at Greenhill Rd and Ruakura, and a southern interchange near Cherry Ln at Tamahere.

The southern interchange will have north-facing ramps and include an east-west connection over the expressway for local traffic.

And confirming the connections to the expressway was one of the final steps, council's general manager of city infrastructure Chris Allen said. The link from Resolution Dr would be strategic infrastructure for growth and an interchange at Ruakura would service the planned inland port.

Allen saw the whole expressway as a "fantastic opportunity" from a community point of view.

"We've got almost a billion dollars worth of infrastructure being spent in our community," he said. It would also bring economic opportunity with strong links between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga, he said.

That was echoed by Transport Agency's Waikato highway manager Kaye Clark.

"We've worked hard to make sure that the expressway connects to the local road network in a way that supports this planned growth and development while also keeping our communities linked," she said.

The NZ Transport Agency is in the tender phase for the construction of the Hamilton expressway section.

The successful tenderer is expected to be announced in October.

NZTA's next steps include planning to connect Resolution Dr to, and across, the expressway to Horsham Downs Rd.

Part of the plan is to stop Osborne Rd on either side of the expressway and provide other routes for walking and cycling.

That wasn't popular with some residents including Tony Kirton, who spoke about his safety worries at the committee meeting. Another bone of contention is that the interchange will start with just north-facing ramps on to the expressway. NZTA has agreed to do the earthworks to provide for south-facing ramps in future.

A drop-in information session for the Horsham Downs community about NZTA's plans will be at the Horsham Downs Community Hall on April 23 from 2-7pm. Further information about the expressway and Resolution Dr extension will go to the council's finance committee on May 21.


Posted: Mon 13 Apr 2015