First drive of the Waikato Expressway Huntly bypass. Full test to follow…
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We’ve just completed one of the most important first drives of the year: the long-awaited Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway, which finally opened to traffic on Monday March 9 - following a weekend of “opening” celebrations in mid-February.
Like any first drive, we have some initial impressions.
Performance first: we’ve put some timing equipment on it. Driven is a regular user of the Waikato Expressway and a first run on the new 15km section suggests a potential saving of six minutes compared with previous commutes through Huntly township. Not massive at this stage, but that may improve with a bit more running in.
By which we mean an upgrade to 110km/h from the inaugural 100km/h limit. The road has been engineered for the former, but the latter limit has been instituted while auditing and consultation takes place.
Speaking of speed, on our drive just one day after the official opening there was already a police presence on the Huntly section. So tempting as it is to enjoy autobahn-style driving on this shiny new piece of tarmac, there’s great potential to be among the early recipients of a speeding ticket on this latest addition to the expressway.
With the Huntly section now open, the final pieces of the Waikato Expressway are falling into place.
The 5.9km Longswamp section between Hampton Downs and Rangiriri is still undergoing surfacing work and restricted to 70km/h northbound, but should be complete and at 100km/h in April.
The Hamilton bypass will mark the completion of the entire 102km Waikato Expressway from Bombay south - but that won’t be finished until 2021.