A royal par­don

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

Two 60-year-old oak trees with a royal con­nec­tion are to be in­cor­po­rated into the de­sign of Ti­rau’s new round­about.

A bless­ing and sod turn­ing event was held re­cently at the site of the pro­posed round­about which will re­place the no­to­ri­ous SH1 and SH5 in­ter­sec­tion.

The two pin oak trees were planted on Jan­uary 1, 1954 to com­mem­o­rate Queen El­iz­a­beth’s stopover visit to Ti­rau, which saw about 7000 peo­ple gather at the nearby Ti­rau re­serve. The trees have been in­cor­po­rated into the four-legged round­about de­sign.

The NZ Trans­port Agency awarded the six-month con­tract to Schick Con­struc­tion, who are keen to get started dur­ing sum­mer.

The new round­about will be lo­cated west of the ex­ist­ing in­ter­sec­tion.

NZ Trans­port Agency high­way man­ager Kaye Clark said the cer­e­mony was im­por­tant for all in­volved, who had the goal of mak­ing this sec­tion of road safer. Change has been a long time com­ing for the in­ter­sec­tion that has been the place of 45 crashes in the past five years re­sult­ing in five deaths and four se­ri­ous in­juries.

‘‘Our thoughts and sym­pa­thies go to the fam­i­lies and friends who have been af­fected by th­ese tragic crashes,’’ Ms Clark said.

The in­ter­sec­tion is a key route for traf­fic trav­el­ling to and from Ro­torua and the cen­tral North Is­land with around 12,000 ve­hi­cles pass­ing each day.

South Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil mayor Neil Sin­clair said he was de­lighted to see work about to start and the trees to be kept.

Re­gional Trans­port Com­mit­tee chair­man and Waikato re­gional coun­cil­lor, Hugh Ver­coe, said the com­mit­tee had strongly en­dorsed plans to im­prove this in­ter­sec­tion over the past six years.

‘‘ It has been among the top three high- pri­or­ity projects we wanted to see car­ried out on our state high­way net­work in the Waikato.’’

Photo: SUP­PLIED

Site blessed: Many peo­ple turn out for the bless­ing of the pro­posed site for Ti­rau’s new round­about.

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