By­pass route not set­tled

The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE - JONO GALUSZKA

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.

PHOTO: DAVID UN­WIN/STUFF

Horowhenua District deputy mayor Wayne Bishop says a road di­vert­ing traf­fic around Levin will be key for the area’s econ­omy.

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