Milestone reached in New Zealand as new bridge opens on the Waikato Expressway
Local politicians, project staff and neighbours joined iwi to mark completion of the newest bridge on the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway today.
The bridge was blessed at an iwi-led event this morning ahead of opening to traffic later in the day. The event included the unveiling of the bridge’s name, Rototuna Bridge.
Horsham Downs Road was closed for more than a year while the $2.5 million bridge, which takes Horsham Downs Road over the four-lane expressway, was built.
“Getting this bridge completed and the road reopened before Christmas is a major milestone for both the Hamilton project and local residents,” says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Acting Director Regional Relationships Ross I’Anson.
“Local people – many who attended today – have been very patient while this important work was underway. I’d like to thank them for their patience and trust they’re as happy with the result as we are.
“The Hamilton section of the expressway promises great safety and efficiency gains for the city and the region. It’s good to celebrate another milestone today and look forward to its completion in 2021.”
The blessing of the bridge was led by members of the project’s Tangata Whenua Working Group, comprising Ngaati Wairere, Ngaati Haua, Ngaati Maahanga and Ngaati Koroki Kahukura.
The bridge was named in recognition of the large lake previously located in the area, which was an abundant food source, including eels, for Ngaati Wairere, who first settled in the area.
The lake has long been drained for farming purposes, which have given way to housing developments in the past 20 years.
Local hapu wished to link the new bridge with the past, while also providing a geographical reference for Waikato Expressway travellers when they pass under the bridge.
The bridge straddles the boundary of both Hamilton City and Waikato District, and this morning’s event was attended by mayors and councillors from both councils, as well as Jamie Strange MP, David Bennett MP and Tim van de Molen MP.
There are 17 bridges on the 22km Hamilton section of the expressway, with the new Rototuna Bridge the last one to open that incorporates existing local roads.