Route de­cided by year end

Horowhenua Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - By JA­NINE BAALBERGEN and ROBERT WEBB

The O¯ taki to North of Levin Ex­press­way re­mains in limbo as the de­ci­sion on a pre­ferred route has again been de­layed un­til the end of the year.

But it now comes with a prom­ise of a firm de­ci­sion on where the ex­press­way will run by the new year, NZTA said. Both Ka¯ piti and Horowhenua District Coun­cils are ec­static with the de­ci­sion to go ahead as it ends a decade of un­cer­tainty for res­i­dents. Horowhenua District Coun­cil­lors and Mayor were briefed on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon about the timeline.

Se­lec­tion of a pre­ferred route will be com­pleted this year, NZTA said in a let­ter de­liv­ered this week to around 400 Horowhenua res­i­dents whose prop­er­ties may be in the path of any of the pro­posed routes.

How­ever, the new state high­way is likely to be just two lanes, rather than four, with room for widen­ing to four lanes in fu­ture.

The let­ter said pri­or­i­ties in trans­port plans for the na­tion have now been sorted and a gen­eral ap­proach for the O2NL cor­ri­dor has been agreed. Con­struc­tion and fund­ing will de­pend on growth and pri­or­i­ties else­where.

NZTA refers to the trans­port cor­ri­dor. Given the cur­rent gov­ern­ment pref­er­ence for pub­lic trans­port this could means pri­or­ity could be given rail and bus ser­vices, rather than an ex­press­way.

At a press con­fer­ence late on Wed­nes­day in Welling­ton NZTA’s Direc­tor Re­gional Re­la­tion­ships Emma Speight said pub­lic trans­port en­hance­ments will be in­ves­ti­gated for the re­gion, which could in­clude rail con­nec­tions, park and ride and bus ser­vice im­prove­ments.

“We will work with our coun­cil part­ners and the Levin com­mu­nity to de­velop a pro­gramme to make the town cen­tre a bet­ter place to live and move around.”

Plans for the Ex­press­way will be con­sid­ered in more de­tail in De­cem­ber once all road projects around the coun­try have been eval­u­ated and an up­date to res­i­dents will fol­low shortly af­ter that.

Safety im­prove­ments on¯the ex­ist­ing high­way be­tween Otaki and Levin will con­tinue, NZTA’s let­ter to res­i­dents said.

“We will be com­ing back to the com­mu­nity and stake­hold­ers be­fore the end of the year about the pre­ferred road cor­ri­dor and pro­posed tim­ing for project con­struc­tion,” Ms Speight said.

Im­me­di­ate safety im­prove­ments will be made on the ex­ist­ing State High­ways 1 and 57, ini­tially fo­cused on speed man­age­ment, road mark­ing, sig­nage and en­force­ment fol­lowed by in­fra­struc­ture mea­sures.

O¯ taki MP Nathan Guy says he is dis­ap­pointed at the an­nounce­ment.

“While the des­ig­na­tion of a trans­port cor­ri­dor will be con­sid­ered progress, there has been lit­tle said about time frame and fund­ing re­quired for com­ple­tion.

“I am dis­ap­pointed that the mas­sive safety en­hance­ment op­por­tu­nity of a four-lane high­way has been over­looked in favour of just two lanes, with fur­ther work be­ing done on the ex­ist­ing quite dan­ger­ous high­way.

Nathan Guy la­belled the an­nounce­ment ‘short-sighted’ given the steadily ris­ing road traf­fic vol­umes and reg­u­lar con­ges­tion prob­lems.

Horowhenua District Coun­cil CEO David Clap­per­ton how­ever has no doubt about the ex­press­way now.

“It is a red-let­ter day for Horowhenua as it has lifted the cloud of un­cer­tainty.

“While it will be a staged ap­proach, there is no doubt in my mind that a four-lane ex­press­way will be built as traf­fic vol­umes and pop­u­la­tion num­bers con­tinue to climb.”

Mr Clap­per­ton said the district had grown at a faster rate than pre­dicted for two years in a row and 2018 is track­ing even fur­ther ahead.

“This an­nounce­ment from NZTA will ac­cel­er­ate that growth. We will need to re­assess the pre­dic­tions to en­sure we are not caught out by growth as has hap­pened else­where in the coun­try.”

Growth Re­sponse Man­ager Daniel Haigh said to meet de­mand a min­i­mum of 244 homes need to be built ev­ery year for the next 20 years.

“We have been pre­par­ing Horowhenua for growth and this an­nounce­ment means we can move ahead with con­fi­dence with a raft of projects that will pro­vide ca­pac­ity and trans­form our com­mu­ni­ties,” he said.

He’s talk­ing about the mas­ter plan for 2000 homes at Glad­stone Green, Levin, the mas­ter plan for 500 homes at Fox­ton Beach, the Trans­form­ing Taitoko Levin Town Cen­tre Strategy and the Horowhenua Growth Strategy, which sets out where new sub­di­vi­sions and in­dus­trial ar­eas can be built.

Mr Clap­per­ton said Coun­cil is also pro­gress­ing with its Horowhenua 2040 Vi­sion, which in­cludes a raft of projects aimed at trans­form­ing the district, im­prov­ing the well­be­ing of res­i­dents, pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and im­prov­ing iwi re­la­tion­ships.

A map of pos­si­ble op­tions for the new ex­press­way from Otaki ¯ to North of Levin.

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