Expressway traffic flow hits Tamahere bottleneck


Traffic is now flowing along the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway, announced Waka Kotahi/NZTA at 10.10pm Thursday night (July 14), minutes after the long heralded four-lane highway opened.

The announcement didn’t say that the flow came to a grinding halt at Tamahere.

“Motorists fume as 110kph Waikato expressway leads straight to one lane bottleneck,” Stuff reported a couple of days later.

“While the newly transformed SH1 is planned to reduce travel time between Auckland and southern Waikato, motorists have come to a sudden standstill at a one-lane bottleneck where the new section hooks up to the existing network at Tamahere and workers are still installing safety measures,” the website reported.

Traffic slows at Tamahere … with little explanation from Waka Kotahi/NZTA

No doubt speaking for many, one person commenting on the Waikato Expressway Facebook page pointed out the area had been a hotbed of roadworks for the last two years.

“I just don’t understand how the Tamahere area wasn’t brought up to 110kph spec weeks ago so North and south of it could just run seamlessly.”

Another wrote on Saturday, “Absolute debacle of traffic on the “open” expressway. Northbound traffic stationary back to Pencarrow Road and then when you head south from Hamilton they have 4 lanes merging into one before Tamahere”.

Waka Kotahi Waikato system manager Cara Lauder said they were making safety improvements – installing roadside wire-rope barriers – on this section of SH1 to bring it up to the same standard as the rest of the Waikato Expressway.

She didn’t say why the work hadn’t been done earlier given the Tamahere to Cambridge section of the expressway has been in service since December 2015, and the 110km/h speed limit has applied since December 2017.

Lauder said the work was programmed to be completed in 2022.

With five months of the year to go “fuming” drivers would surely hope so.

But on driver’s behalf, Waka Kotahi/NZTA decided that “while the temporary measures in place while the work is completed will cause some delays, the benefits of opening the Hamilton section of the expressway as soon as possible outweigh any temporary inconvenience.”

A statement that takes top marks for being patronising but fails to explain why Waka Kotahi/NZTA’s left hand doesn’t seem to know what its right hand is doing.

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