The final chapter in a 30-year roading project came to a close on Tuesday 14th July, with the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway officially open to traffic.
While commuters are the typical beneficiaries to a project of this nature, the local environment also greatly benefits from the expressway, thanks to Natural Habitats.
Since its beginning in 2016, Natural Habitats has been engaged in an advisory role and subcontractor for the 22km stretch of road and additional 5km of local roads. This massive undertaking saw the installation of 1.01 million eco-sourced plants over 10 hectares with 3 gully restorations and 13 wetlands to manage and control discharge from.
Natural Habitats’ Project Manager Aaron Fisher says “for the past 6 years, we have planted, mulched, sprayed and maintained the plantings in preparation for the recent opening. The team are extremely proud of the project they’ve delivered while working with tight deadlines and covid challenges.”
“There is no doubt there will be significant safety and economic benefits for Hamilton and beyond that, but there are also other positives” says Hamilton Mayor, Paula Southgate.
“Over time, given the plantings, the expressway will become a wonderful biodiversity corridor. And along the way, the journey also showcases some wonderful artwork that helps tell the rich cultural history of our region.”
“We’re proud to have played a significant role in this project of national significance” says Natural Habitats regional manager, Bradley Wise. “It’s great to see the environment is a priority alongside economic growth and road safety.”
“Now that the plants are in, we’ve got another several years ensuring they will continue to thrive at the standard we expect. Our goal is to manage these plants toward being self-sustaining to ensure this area remains an asset for future generations.”
The 22km Hamilton section takes State Highway 1 east of Hamilton, from the Ngāruawāhia section in the north to connect with the Cambridge section at Tamahere. It is the final piece in the 102km expressway project, and opened with a 110km/h speed limit.
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