Route decided by year end
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.