100 or 110km/h? Revealing the Waikato Expressway speed limit, opens July
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The Waikato Expressway is set to open the Hamilton bypass in July, but the big questions remain: exactly when, and what will the speed limit be?
With Australia adopting 110km/h speed limits on its expressways since the 1970s, New Zealand seems to be falling behind, with only a select few stretches of roads in New Zealand, including the Hamilton to Cambridge link, offering the 110km/h speed limit, 10km/h above the national default speed limit of 100km/h.
Safety always seems to be the barrier authorities hide behind, but the Cambridge section, the Huntly bypass, and the soon-to-open Hamilton bypass are all designed to be 110km/h speed zones, meeting the Roads of National Significance criteria of roads built to a standard where the higher speed limit is both safe and appropriate, including having at least two lanes in each direction, a median barrier, no significant curves and no direct access to neighbouring properties.
So, with the safer roads and huge improvement in the safety of vehicles over the past few decades, surely we can hope and expect to see a speed limit of 110km/h offered for this section?
Waikato Expressway is set to officially announce the speed limit any day now, and the speed signs have already been erected on the existing roads, with the limit covered by tape, for its reveal and official opening in July. And our spies have uncovered both 100km/h and 110km/h signs!
The good news is that the Huntly bypass looks likely to see an increase to 110km/h. This will continue the 110km/h limit onto the new 22km section of the Hamilton bypass, and onto the section of existing expressway linking at the Tamahere Southern Interchange, theading further south passing Cambridge.
The 100km/h zone will remain south of the SH1 Northern Interchange, heading into Hamilton/Te Rapa.
The Waikato Expressway is the key strategic corridor for the Waikato region; when complete, it will run 102km from the Bombay Hills to the south of Cambridge. It's claimed that once completed, the new road will reduce travel times between Auckland and Tirau by up to 35 minutes.
It's also hoped that the Expressway will reduce crashes, increase traffic capacity, take congestion away from communities like Huntly, Ngaruawahia and Cambridge, reduce fuel costs for motorists and contribute to economic growth.
The big question of exactly "when" the Hamilton bypass will open is being left to the last minute and will be somewhat of a surprise.
Just like the Huntly bypass opening in February 2020, Waikato Expressway has announced it will not pre-announce the exact opening date, to discourage people from waiting and wanting to be the first to drive the new road.
It is also hoping to do both a video flyover and an official ceremonial opening allowing the public to walk the new expressway. It has only offered "July" as the opening, though with school holidays starting on July 9, for two weeks, there could be some school holiday surprises in store for road trip travellers.
Two notes from DRIVEN: for the sake of common sense and safety, use and respect the speed limits for the grace being given to motorists, and don't abuse it for others, by recklessly speeding. And keep left unless overtaking. Happy 110km/h motoring!