Te Rapa Bypass Speech

  • Steven Joyce

Thank you Harry for that introduction.

I'd like to acknowledge:

  • Hamilton MPs David Bennett, Tim Macindoe - who are constantly in my ear about the Waikato Expressway.
  • City Transport Chair Dave McPherson and Waikato District Mayor Peter Harris.
  • Regional Transport Committee Chair Norm Baker, and Deputy Chair Paula Southgate.

I also want to congratulate representatives here from the successful tenderer.  Fulton Hogan and Opus International have formed an alliance with NZTA to win this very significant piece of work.   

I guess I should alert you to that fact that there is quite a bit of interest in the Waikato Expressway not just in the Waikato but from as far away as Wellington...including from me personally, and from the Prime Minister.  

No pressure, but let's just say we will be following progress on this piece of highway with much interest.

Personally, it's always a pleasure for me to come back to Hamilton and to see how this city and this region continues to grow and develop under Bob Simcock. 

But I have to say, having driven down from Auckland today, that it will be much more of a pleasure when the Waikato Expressway is complete.

The Waikato Expressway will deliver significant benefits to this region, and therefore to the country. 

It will, of course, make the journey between the Waikato and Auckland significantly faster - a 35-minute travel time saving between Auckland and Tirau. 

And yes, that is important....not only for commuters, but for businesses, for freight companies, for importers and exporters, for tourists and for all those who need faster and more reliable connections between the Waikato and Auckland markets.

The Waikato Expressway will also help connect our communities, and help ensure more appropriate use of our local roads.

That is particularly the case for sections of the Expressway like Te Rapa section which is fundamental to Hamilton's urban design and land use planning for the future. 

Its construction will reduce congestion here at Te Rapa and open up further industrial and commercial opportunities for the city and surrounding district. 

In terms of jobs, the Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway alone will create work for 250 people in areas ranging from design, to building the structure, to doing the earthworks, to laying the pavement. 

Following today's funding announcement from the NZTA Board, around 30 people will begin work, almost immediately, on design work.

We can expect to see construction underway by September this year. 

Downstream, just as with the Kopu Bridge project, other jobs will be created as local industry gears up to support the project. 

It is the intention that most materials, plant and labour involved in the Te Rapa project will be sourced from this region, including much of the aggregate needed to build the road itself. 

That's exactly what this Government wants - jobs and growth driven by building critical infrastructure projects that will set New Zealand on the right course.

The big question though, certainly one that everyone probably wants me to answer today is when?  When will the Waikato Expressway be completed?

The Waikato Expressway is a key piece of infrastructure and it is the Government's absolute intention to deliver it as quickly as we possibly can.  A key piece of transport infrastructure for the Waikato region's growth and development.

Completion was stalled for far too long.  I remember living here in the mid-90s and completion was slated for mid-2010.

In opposition we pledged that it would be done within 10 years of us taking office and that remains the goal in office.

And yes that will be challenging.

No-one, least of all me, is denying that.  Nonetheless, with the continued support from our key stakeholders, we are determined to get there.

Within the next few months, you will see some very significant progress on this project.

Today's announcement of the Te Rapa Bypass contract, $10 million under budget and 12 months ahead of schedule is, I think, very impressive. 

This month, NZTA will apply for resource consents for the Rangiriri section of the Waikato Expressway.  

The target is to start construction in 12 months time so that that section of the Expressway will be complete by late 2013. 

The Ngaruawahia section is targeted to start construction in the first half of 2011 with work on safety upgrades in Taupiri scheduled to begin ahead of that.

The Huntly design contract is out for industry tender at the moment. The Hamilton design contract will be tendered within the next few months.  My understanding is that both sections will be ready for construction by 2015.

This all means that by the end of 2011, three sections of the Waikato Expressway will be under construction. 

And by 2015, all remaining sections of the Waikato Expressway will either be ready for construction, under construction, or will be completed.

That is a fantastic achievement.

I know that NZTA is working very hard to deliver the Waikato Expressway and other infrastructure projects in this region as quickly as possible.  I thank all those involved for their efforts to date.

In the meantime, thank you all for coming today - it has been a pleasure to be with you. 

I look forward to being back in Hamilton and the Waikato again soon to celebrate further progress on this vital piece of infrastructure.