Major East Coast road projects open

Travel on the East Coast is expected to be easier after two major roading projects were opened in the region today.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce officially opened the southern extension of the Hawke's Bay Expressway and the Matahorua Gorge realignment on State Highway 2 between Gisborne and Hawke's Bay.

The $12 million expressway runs between Hastings city and Flaxmere, providing a direct link between the roundabouts at Longlands Road and York Road.

"It will remove a very significant bottleneck and crash black spot, providing a safer, more direct route for highway traffic, freeing up local roads and providing a long-term, sustainable solution which will support future growth in the region," Mr Joyce said.

The $30 million Matahorua Gorge project was expected to improve safety by realigning a narrow and winding 4.5km section of road used heavily by freight vehicles, particularly logging trucks.

"This work will result in improved visibility and increased road widths, which will bring real benefits in terms of safety, efficiency and reliability," Mr Joyce said.

"It will also have the effect of bringing Napier and Gisborne closer together."

Both projects were accelerated in 2009 as part of the government's jobs and growth plan to provide a short-term economic boost through job creation.

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