Source: New Zealand Government
Transport Minister Michael Wood today marked the completion of the Awakino Tunnel Bypass project, which will make it easier to get to or from the Taranaki and has supported the region’s economic recovery.
After nearly 100 years, traffic on State Highway 3 (SH3) between Taranaki and the Waikato will no longer have to travel through the single-lane Awakino Tunnel with the completion of the bypass. The 2.3km project includes two new bridges across the Awakino River, a north bound passing lane, truck pullover areas and a realigned section of highway.
“The road through the Awakino Gorge is a vital route to connect Waikato and Taranaki. The completion of the bypass means the thousands of trips on this route, ranging from trucks to tourists, will now be safer and more reliable,” Michael Wood said.
“The project has also helped the region’s economic recovery, with around 400 jobs supported over its construction. It will continue to help the recovery through making it easier and more reliable for freight to get in and out of Taranaki.
Earlier this morning, Mana Whenua Ngāti Maniapoto blessed two totara pou which acknowledge the significance of the area. The pou, named Herangi and Aorangi represent the hills stretching to the north and to the south of the Awakino River.
“The support of Ngāti Maniapoto has been an important part of the success of this project and it is fantastic to see that connection represented by the two striking pou that sit alongside the new route,” Michael Wood said.
The historic Awakino Tunnel, blasted through an escarpment of limestone in the early 1920s, will be preserved as an attraction for passing motorists to stop and visit. While people can walk to the tunnel, mesh screens will prevent entry for safety reasons. The total cost of the Awakino Tunnel Bypass project was $50.1 million.