Drone to survey gullies

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Work on the latest section of the Waikato Expressway to impact Tamahere will soon be visible on high.

An artist's impression of a bridge across a gully
An artist’s impression of a bridge across a gully

An aerial drone is scheduled to take to the air next week as part of an environmental survey of the Mangaonua, Mangaharakeke and Mangaone gully systems between Tamahere and Hillcrest.

The survey by ground as well as air is part of preparations for a gully restoration strategy by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) for the Hamilton section of the expressway.

It is intended to identify areas for potential restoration, find solutions for eradicating invasive weeds, and identify costs and possible funding sources for the work.

NZTA Waikato highway manager Kaye Clark said projects like the expressway provided an opportunity to enhance the natural and physical environment alongside the roads.

“When we started investigating the Hamilton section we saw that the gully systems were in an extremely poor state, full of invasive plants and weeds that are destroying the natural ecosystem.

“The survey work we will be carrying out will inform what environmental works need to be carried out within the Hamilton section of the expressway’s footprint but the information will also be useful for other areas.”

NZTA’s restoration strategy will be made available free to landowners, iwi and councils to use in any future restoration work.

More on this topic: Tamahere Reserve (Mangaone Gully/Stream)

Bridge preparation

Test rigs will also be seen in the gullies gathering soil samples and doing other tests as part of preliminary work for designing the bridges that will cross the gullies.

Tracks need to be formed or upgraded to transport the test rigs to four gully sites – one on the Mangaonua Stream near Morrinsville Rd, and three on the Mangaharakeke Stream in the Tamahere/Matangi area.

NZTA said some trees may need to be removed to build each track and ecologists would be on hand to check for the rare, native bats.

Some construction work for the Hamilton section will begin in April at its northern end (Lake Road) including construction of environmental controls and an internal haul road but major earthworks will not begin until October.

The project

The proposed design for the 21km long Hamilton section includes five interchanges, 17 bridges and new connecting roads at Ruakura Road and Resolution Drive.

It will be constructed by a group made up of Fletcher, Beca, Higgins, Coffey and Hick Brothers, in an alliance with NZTA.

The Hamilton section is one of seven making up the entire Waikato Expressway project.

Earlier story: Chance for close-up on new road

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