Bypass route not settled
Plans to divert traffic around Levin are a step closer to fruition, with the region’s deputy mayor lauding the economic growth the road could bring.
Which side of the town the road will skirt is yet to be decided, despite most residents wanting it to go to the west.
The NZ Transport Agency has just finished its latest round of engagement for its ‘‘Otaki to north of Levin’’ roading project.
The project aims to create a route from north of Otaki to north of Levin, a road that should connect with the Kapiti Expressway.
The final route, once connected to Transmission Gully, should take traffic from Wellington to north of Levin without hitting a traffic light or going through any towns.
Nobody from the transport agency was available for an interview and questions from Stuff about the feedback were not answered. Instead, the agency provided a one-line statement.
However, the agency’s engagement results show people are fed up with State Highway 1 going through the centre of Levin and are keen for it to go between the town and the coast.
Ninety-five of the 217 feedback forms completed identified going west of Levin as the preferred option.
Fifteen wanted it to go along Arapaepae Rd, the current eastern route around Levin, while 17 thought it should go further to the east.
Feedback quoted in the engagement results bemoans the traffic through the town.
‘‘It’s annoying having to drive through the main street of towns when I’m just passing through. There is often lots of traffic and the trip is delayed by intersections and traffic lights. A route that bypasses all those towns would be preferable,’’ one person said.
Another commented on how it affects productivity.
‘‘Congestion on current roads is too heavy for the existing roads and travelling through townships makes the problem worse.
‘‘The cost to industry in man hours lost in travel is too great, as is the loss in quality of life for families who regularly travel the route.’’
The agency received a large number of emails and letters about the project, with similar themes coming up among them: Needing to bypass Levin; continuing the route further north; taking care not to lose productive land; catering for cyclists and pedestrians; and minimising the affect on residents.
Horowhenua mayor Michael Feyen said it was obvious the road had to bypass Levin.
‘‘Whatever way it does go, we have to make Levin a destination so people want to turn off for a few hours’ leisure, shopping or recreation.’’
People would be affected no matter which side of the town the road goes, so making sure they were heard was important, he said.
Horowhenua deputy mayor Wayne Bishop said the roading project was another key piece of infrastructure for the region.
The Kapiti Expressway had breathed new economic life into Horowhenua, with businesses and people moving to the region, and the Levin bypass would only add to that.
‘‘We’ve had a challenged community, socially, for a long time.
‘‘The best thing we can provide for the district is employment, as that erases all those low socioeconomic indicators because people have jobs and and sense of worth.
‘‘We have to be thankful for the investment in the region. We have to embrace and enable the change.
‘‘If you push back at it, you miss out.’’
The agency will now develop options, talk to property owners who may be affected, organise more public engagement and take a recommended option to its board for approval.
Construction is likely to begin in 2021, the same year Transmission Gully is scheduled to be completed.
Horowhenua District deputy mayor Wayne Bishop says a road diverting traffic around Levin will be key for the area’s economy.