Hamilton’s $63 million Ring Road was officially opened to traffic on Friday.
The project’s final stage includes the Wairere Drive extension, from Cambridge Road to Cobham Drive, and the Cobham Drive interchange – at the intersection of Wairere Drive.
The mammoth project, of which 72% was contributed by the government through Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency subsidies, began in 2017. The new interchange separates the state highway Cobham Drive traffic from the local Wairere Drive extension traffic and includes walking and cycling facilities. It will also connect the future bridge over the Waikato River into Peacocke.
“It has been a challenging project to build, and I am extremely proud of the team who have persevered through recent COVID-19 times, as well as navigating the tricky traffic management requirements and constraints that come with working on a busy state highway,” said Hamilton City Council’s Development General Manager, Chris Allen.
Councillors, staff, contractors, key partners, and stakeholders, as well as members of Waikato Tainui and the tangata whenua working group, gathered on Friday morning to bless the site and officially open it to traffic.
“Today we celebrate not just the completion of this project, but also the completion of the city’s Ring Road, which started development in the 1980s,” said Mr Allen.
The Ring Road is a 24km route which circles the city, starting at the Cobham Drive bridge and including the western corridors of Normandy Avenue, Lorne Street, Kahikatea Drive, Greenwood Street, Lincoln Street and Mangaharakeke Drive; through to the northern east-west link of Wairere Drive, across the Pukete Bridge to Crosby Road, and back through to Cobham Drive.
Hamilton Mayor, Paula Southgate said the completion of the Ring Road was momentous for the city.
“With the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway also due to open soon, this is a big few weeks for transport. I’m grateful for the foresight of roading engineers and planners from decades ago, who anticipated Hamilton’s growth,” she said.
“Without these major roads guiding traffic in and around the city, our local roads would be incredibly congested.
“Now our focus needs to go on driving other transformational change. Roads will always be critical but building more and more of them will not solve congestion; we know that. We need to respond to climate change and offer people in our city real choice about safe and efficient ways to get around that doesn’t always depend on private vehicles,” the Mayor said.
Councillor Martin Gallagher, who has been involved with the Hamilton Ring Road since its inception, says the opening ceremony was a chance to honour the community members, staff and contractors who were involved with the project.
“While not all who shared the vision can be with us today to celebrate and witness this milestone, the part they had to play in the journey was essential, and I honour them,” said Mr Gallagher.