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