The NZTA yesterday announced they’ve awarded a $1 billion contract to build another bypass of Hamilton and comes after they spent $200 million on the existing bypass at Te Rapa which opened three years ago. Construction won’t begin till next spring as the contract includes the detailed design work which will take place first.
A consortium of contractors and designers has been awarded a contract to build the biggest roading project to be undertaken in the Waikato, the NZ Transport Agency says.
The 21 kilometre long Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway will be constructed by a group made up of Fletcher, Beca, Higgins and Coffey (FBHC), in an alliance with the Transport Agency.
The proposed design for the section includes five interchanges, 17 bridges and new connecting roads at Ruakura Road and Resolution Drive.
As usual with these things there seems to be a fair amount of artistic licence that goes into the press releases. For example
The project is one of seven sections of the Waikato Expressway, a Road of National Significance (RoNS)identified by the Government as key to unlocking New Zealand’s potential for economic growth.
Once all seven sections are complete, the expressway is expected to cut travel times between Auckland and Tirau by up to 35 minutes and significantly improving safety.
So how much of that claimed 35 minute savings comes from this project and how much from the other sections that have already been completed or are under way? Including the time savings of other projects was one of the key criticisms of the NZTA by the board of inquiry that rejected the Basin Reserve Flyover in Wellington.
“The expressway connects inter-regional traffic with local destinations which is vital for the economy and for our vibrant communities. We have to get these things right and we can only do that if we partner up,” she says.
Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker says the project is important to growth and development in Hamilton and the wider Waikato region.
“We have been waiting in anticipation for completion of the Hamilton section of the expressway and it’s great to have this work now locked in,” she says.
“It is a fantastic project that will deliver considerable value to Hamilton’s economy and lifestyle.”
I’m not quite sure how a rural motorway out past the edge of town is going to do anything to make communities in Hamilton more vibrant and isn’t the point to allow traffic to bypass the city and get to or from Auckland faster. The project also isn’t likely to do much to the economy either. Even by 2041 some sections are still expected to have fewer than 10,000 vehicles per day using them – and that’s likely using the NZTAs often over-optimistic assumptions. Another way of putting that is it’s on par with what the old Kopu bridge carried back when it was a single lane bridge.
I suspect that if this section was assessed on it’s own it might be lucky to scrape above a BCR of 0.2
I wonder how liveable and vibrant Hamilton would be if $1 billion was spent on projects that more directly benefited locals?