Hamilton bypass on track for completion this year, but no decision on 110km/h speed limit

The $607 million Hamilton bypass is on the home straight with half of the new asphalt laid and on track to open to traffic late this year.

However, the question of whether a 110km/h speed limit will be implemented on the new section of SH1 has still to be decided, a spokesman for Kotahi NZ Transport Agency said.

The Cambridge bypass, which will connect to the new bypass just south of Hamilton, has a 110km/h speed limit but this was not introduced until two years after it opened.

The only other section of road in New Zealand with a 110km/h speed limit is the Tauranga east link toll road.

While these few roads are built for higher speeds, many of the country’s state highways are substandard and dangerous.

This month, Waka Kotahi announced it is seeking feedback to lower speeds on nine state highways in Northland and two in Northwest Auckland due to the high number of deaths and serious injuries on the roads.

Fourteen people have died on Northland roads so far this year, one more than at the same time last year.

“To reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads we need to take action on several fronts, from speed limits to driver education to improving the safety of roads and vehicles”, said Waka Kotahi director of regional relationships Steve Mutton.

Last year, the agency reduced the speed limit on SH1 between Kawakawa and Moerewa from 100km/h to 80km/h, with Far North District councillor Kelly Stratford saying it had made a difference and people feel safer.

The transport agency yesterday posted a video of the Hamilton bypass showing large sections of the new road paved at the northern end and asphalt being laid at the southern interchange just outside Hamilton.

All the major bridges are complete and a third of flexible safety barriers are in place.

The 22km Hamilton bypass starts at the Lake Rd junction with the Ngaruawahia section in the north. It then runs south, roughly along the border of the Hamilton City and Waikato District council areas, to the east of Hamilton.

Once complete, motorists will be able to skip Hamilton. No more deciding how to tackle local roads, roundabouts and sets of traffic lights; no more Gordonton Rd shortcuts; no more taking a wrong turn and getting lost.

What’s more, SH1 from Auckland to south of Cambridge will be four lanes or more. The picture will look even better with another four-lane section of the same road – between Pūhoi and Warkworth – scheduled to open in time for Queens Birthday weekend, 2022.

Once the Waikato Expressway is completed it will cut 35 minutes off the drive from the top of the Bombays to south of Cambridge.

When motorists get to drive on the new expressway, says Waka Kotahi principal project manager Jo Wilton, there will be five interchanges allowing access to Hamilton, new housing subdivisions and rural areas.

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate has said completion of the Waikato Expressway will be key to unlocking economic activity and population growth on the east of the city.

“In the coming years investment on the eastern side of Hamilton will mean thousands of new jobs, better freight and transport connections and, importantly, more housing, including affordable housing.

“The Golden Triangle between Auckland and Tauranga generates 52 per cent of the national GDP so transport connections, including the expressway, are vital not just to our city, but to the country,” she said.

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