Ex­press­way de­ci­sion blasted

Hamilton News - - NEWS - Tom Row­land

Na­tional MP for Hamil­ton East David Ben­nett has blasted NZTA for a lack of plan­ning, af­ter it put a hold on the ex­ten­sion of the Waikato Ex­press­way from Cam­bridge to Piarere.

On Wed­nes­day, NZTA re­leased plans for short-term safety im­prove­ments to SH1 from Cam­bridge to Piarere, with the im­prove­ments likely to in­clude cen­tral me­dian bar­ri­ers and side bar­ri­ers, while also pro­vid­ing safer ac­cess to the com­mu­ni­ties in the area.

How­ever, Mr Ben­nett said that the short-term safety work was al­ready planned for and signed off in a Na­tional Gov­ern­ment busi­ness case in July last year, which also in­cluded the ex­ten­sion to the ex­press­way, and he said it's a sign of the lack of in­vest­ment in the Waikato re­gion.

“I've seen com­ments from NZTA that they could just make it a one lane each way road be­cause there are al­ready de­cent roads, but that just shows the lack of any de­cent plan­ning from NZTA at the mo­ment, and how they have been di­rected,” Mr Ben­nett said.

“It is com­plete Gov­ern­ment in­ter­fer­ence as to why that NZTA de­ci­sion has been re­versed.

NZTA'S gen­eral man­ager of Sys­tem De­sign and De­liv­ery Brett Glid­don said the process that NZTA has just been through is to make sure they align with the new Gov­ern­ment's pol­icy state­ment, which sets the di­rec­tion for the NZTA.

“That change was rea­son­ably sig­nif­i­cant as it put much more em­pha­sis on road safety and also fo­cus on ac­cess, which is about how peo­ple move on the sys­tem,” Mr Glid­don said.

“We were work­ing on a pro­ject which was an ex­ten­sion on the Waikato Ex­press­way to Piarere. We've done that reval­u­a­tion and the out­come is that in the short term with the safety fo­cus of this Gov­ern­ment, we are go­ing to con­tinue to do safety work and en­hance that to make sure the ex­ist­ing state high­way one is as safe as pos­si­ble.”

Mr Glid­don said that there is a fo­cus on up­grad­ing the in­ter­sec­tion be­tween SH1 and SH29 which leads to Tau­ranga.

“It is most likely to be a big ru­ral round­about. The key is to put it in the most likely lo­ca­tion.”

He said that the ca­pac­ity is way off for the ex­ten­sion of the high­way, say­ing that it is a longer term goal of 10 years, how­ever Mr Ben­nett said that is just an ex­cuse.

“That is sim­ply rub­bish. There is no­body turn­ing off at the end of Cam­bridge — they carry on, so the ca­pac­ity is there and that is just an ex­cuse by NZTA to cover their min­is­ter's di­rec­tion,” Mr Ben­nett said.

“It sim­ply does not add up as there is no turn off in Cam­bridge, so the num­bers are there. You just have to drive that road to see them.”

NZTA also plans to up­grade the State High­way one and two in­ter­change at Po¯ keno to en­able safe tran­si­tion on to the two roads.

“Any­one that drives there knows you can get queued back from SH2 on to SH1 and it goes up the Bom­bay Hills and that can be quite un­safe if it gets back into the fast lanes, so there will be some ca­pac­ity im­prove­ments there,” Mr Glid­don said.

Other projects in­clude safety im­prove­ments from Piarere to Te Poi, Te Poi to Tau­riko and fur­ther safety im­prove­ments to SH2.

“It is com­plete Gov­ern­ment in­ter­fer­ence as to why that NZTA de­ci­sion has been re­versed.”

David Ben­nett, Na­tional MP for Hamil­ton East

David Ben­nett

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