The start of construction on the $458 million Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway may be up to six months away but the public can already take a virtual drive-through.

NZ Transport Agency have created an animated flyover of the 15.2 kilometre section, giving viewers a road-level view of the project.


The Huntly section will connect the Ohinewai section of the expressway in the north to the Ngaruawahia section at Taupiri.


The animated video takes viewers south along the expressway, passing east of Huntly, before cutting through the Taupiri Range to meet the Ngaruawahia section at Gordonton Road.


The video then repeats the journey travelling north up to Ohinewai.


In March, NZTA awarded the design and construction contract for the Huntly section to a consortium made up of Fulton Hogan, HEB Construction and Jacobs and Opus International Consultants.


NZTA's project services manager Peter Simcock said the consortium would spend the next few months completing detailed design work.


Construction work is timed to start in September.


The Huntly section, which is due to be completed in 2019, will feature nine bridges and two half-diamond interchanges.


It is expected to shave at least five minutes off the journey between Auckland and Hamilton and will be safer.


Currently, more than 17,000 motorists travel daily on State Highway 1 between Huntly and Hamilton.


Roading bosses have said the Huntly section will "significantly improve" safety for motorists travelling the route, with two traffic lanes in each direction.


SH1 between Huntly and Hamilton is classified as the highest risk road in New Zealand, based on the number of fatal and serious injury crashes per kilometre.


In the five years to 2011, there were 30 serious injury crashes and 11 fatal smashes on that stretch of road.


To view the animated video of the Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway, visit YouTube.


AARON LEAMAN

- Waikato Times

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