Waikato MP, Tim van de Molen and James Yearsley, member of the Tamahere Community Committee made an oral submission to the Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee on the 2nd of July in the hopes of securing safer community access at the Tamahere interchange.
Van de Molen requested that the House of Representatives urge Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) to provide the Tamahere community with safer pedestrian and cycle access across the SH1 interchange at Tamahere.
“Unfortunately for the half the students at Tamahere Model Country School, riding or walking to school is simply too risky for them to attempt and it is our strong view that this is simply not good enough and we are here to ask for a solution for our community”, van de Molen said to the committee.
The Waikato Expressway, urban growth and Te Awa announcing plans for a cycleway have contributed to a significant increase in vehicle, pedestrian and cycle traffic, van de Molen said.
The interchange sees an average daily traffic volume of 9500 vehicles crossing SH21 over a yearly period, a significant increase in the last five to ten years.
The Tamahere Community Committee (TCC) had sought and received reassurance from NZTA for many years that a safe connection east-west across the expressway and north-south across SH21 was part of the overall expressway upgrade. NZTA informed TCC this was no longer the case in June last year.
As a result of this, van de Molen created a petition seeking a crossing be developed on both the north-bound on-ramp and southbound off-ramp and across SH21. The petition received strong backing from the community including the local school, church, local businesses and Waikato District Council.
Te Awa announced they would provide funding for a cycleway underpass across Airport road (SH29) effectively achieving half of the petition's goal. The focus is now on achieving the east-west connection across SH1 as around 57% of the community resides on the eastern side of the expressway with the majority of community facilities located on the west.
Yearsley said during the submission, “Our proposal is, before NZTA complete the Hamilton section of the Waikato expressway, Tamahere community respectfully seeks a safe solution to the existing dangers of the inappropriate access under the SH1 expressway and interchange ramps at Tamahere.”
Yearsley and van de Molen suggested a signal-controlled traffic light crossing at the SH1 off-ramp could be a solution and an underpass for the significantly more dangerous SH1 on-ramp.