Here’s our educated guess on when you’ll be able to drive the Huntly Expressway
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The Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway enjoyed its grand opening on February 14-15, with iwi blessings, official lunches, the inaugural Expressway Classic half marathon and the opportunity for members of the public to traverse the new road on foot, by cycle or in a bus.
But there’s no official word on when the 15km of new road, which links Ohinewai in the north with Ngaruawahia in the south, will be open to traffic.
In some respects this is standard operating procedure by NZTA for a major new route.
It’s a crucial and long-awaited addition to the Waikato Expressway that will eliminate the congestion through Huntly township and eventually allow 110km/h motoring (although it’ll open at 100km/h while auditing and consultation takes place).
With so much attention on the new development, it’s usual for the opening date to be kept secret until very close to the time, to avoid motorists queuing up to be the first and creating unnecessary congestion.
However, regulars on the existing road have some useful insight into Expressway progress. Driven’s editor Dean Evans commutes from Waikato to Auckland regularly and passed through Huntly this morning (Monday February 17).
He says the northern interchange still looks “at least a week or two from completion” and reckons we’re looking at a March, rather than February, opening.
That won’t be welcome news for those keen to get cracking on the new road after all the festivities.
It also adds to the frustration of regular commuters who have experienced another slowdown on the Longswamp section (just south of Hampton Downs). It opened in December with a 100km/h limit southbound and a restriction to 70km/h northbound.
However, as of Feb 17 the road is back down to one lane of 70km/h traffic each way as final work on the northbound-lanes stone mastic asphalt takes place. This won’t be complete until early April, when all lanes will be available at 100km/h.
NZTA Waikato portfolio manager Darryl Coalter says the four lanes were opened in December to ease holiday traffic flows: “We have waited until the long weekends are over and traffic flows are a little lighter before undertaking this final piece of work.”