A contract to build a new road linking Devine and Airport Roads is expected to get underway within two weeks, triggering a number of far reaching changes in Tamahere.
The $2.5 million contract, to be undertaken by Fulton Hogan, includes not only the 470m link road but car parks for future sports fields at the long heralded village hub, changes to the Devine Rd-SH1 on-ramp intersection, and a new-style intersection at the other end of Devine Rd where it joins Newell Rd.
The contract also covers alterations to Airport Rd, allowing for slip or deceleration lanes, at the link road intersection and, most far reaching of all, the closure of Newell Rd at Airport Rd.
Tamahere councillor Wally Hayes said the Newell Rd closure, which is expected to remove 500-600 through-traffic cars from increasingly built-up Newell Rd, might occur as early as December but if there were construction delays it could be early 2015.
Most of the cars using Newell Rd as a shortcut to Airport Rd are from outside Tamahere, he said.
One of the other significant consequences of the link road going ahead will be the changes to traffic movements where Devine Rd meets the on-ramp. Once the link road is finished the right turn from Devine Rd and down the on-ramp will be eliminated, Hayes said.
The left turn on to SH1 will continue as will the left turn from the on-ramp on to Devine Rd. Traffic previously exiting Devine Rd via the right turn on to the on-ramp will in future be able to use the new link road.
Hayes said that the NZ Transport Agency is keen for the on-ramp-Devine Rd intersection to be totally closed and it will be monitoring traffic movements through the intersection once the link road is completed.
“We know the community wants to keep the intersection and that’s what we’ll be trying to do,” he said. “But it will depend on traffic figures over time.”
Meanwhile, the other end of Devine Rd will change from a T intersection with Newell Rd to a sweeping right bend.
“Effectively Devine Rd will become part of Newell Rd,” Hayes said. “The short section of Newell Rd south of Devine Rd will, in fact, become a separate road and there will be a give-way sign for traffic travelling north and joining Newell Rd.”
Hayes said it was likely that the Devine Rd name would remain. Meanwhile, his two-year-old proposal to have the link road named after Tamahere’s historic Wiremu Tamihana is still unsettled.
“It’s not confirmed because the road doesn’t exist yet,” he said. “But I’m hopeful the name Wiremu Tamihana will be accepted, and Ngati Haua, with whom I’ve consulted, are delighted.”
The link road construction will also include car parking for the 6.75ha of future sports fields and 0.5ha of village green. It will also trigger new opportunities for the community to have further in-put into plans for the recreational area and the 0.88ha Tamahere Village Business Zone.
Hayes said WDC has earmarked $300,000 for a recreational reserve management plan to be prepared in the 2014-15 financial year for the area.
An unusual factor of the $2.5 million contract for the link road and spin-off changes was that the council would be paying for work on Airport Rd, also known as SH 21 and state highway work is normally the preserve of NZTA, Hayes said.
However, the contract was a rare multi-part funding agreement and was looking ahead to when an east-west link road was required along Birchwood Lane when the Waikato Expressway interchange at Cherry Lane was completed in 2020.
The local road work required at that point would be funded by NZTA, Hayes said.