$72m in­ter­change for Hutt

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - COLIN WILLIAMS

‘‘What that will en­able is closer links from Welling­ton right out to Up­per Hutt, which will en­cour­age the fur­ther growth of the whole Hutt Val­ley.’’

A $72 mil­lion ‘‘fast track’’ in­vest­ment for a new Melling in­ter­change on State High­way 2 at Lower Hutt was an­nounced by Prime Min­is­ter Bill English on Fri­day.

If re-elected, Na­tional would also in­ves­ti­gate and de­sign a new in­ter­change at Kennedy-Good, Kel­son, a cou­ple of kilo­me­tres north on the high­way from Melling.

The es­ti­mated $72m to com­plete the in­ter­change would come from the Na­tional Land Trans­port Fund and the Bud­get cap­i­tal al­lowance.

A ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the con­struc­tion would be com­pleted in the next term of gov­ern­ment’’, Trans­port Min­is­ter Si­mon Bridges, who ac­com­pa­nied English on his cam­paign visit to Lower Hutt, said.

The Hutt Val­ley was an area ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sig­nif­i­cant growth, English said at the an­nounce­ment.

‘‘We have the the op­por­tu­nity to sup­port that growth with the kind of in­fra­struc­ture projects which peo­ple have imag­ined for a long time but haven’t ac­tu­ally hap­pened till now.

‘‘We’ll fund the $72m for the in­ter­change and also ac­cel­er­ate the plan­ning and con­sid­er­a­tion of the in­ter­change at Kennedy-Good.

‘‘What that will en­able is closer links from Welling­ton right out to Up­per Hutt, which will en­cour­age the fur­ther growth of the whole Hutt Val­ley.’’

The Hutt City Coun­cil-owned

Melling Bridge across the Hutt River at the cur­rent traf­fic-sig­nal con­trolled in­ter­sec­tion will also be re­placed, with more dis­cus­sion on how it will be paid for.

‘‘The new in­ter­change will im­prove travel times for peo­ple and freight mov­ing around the Welling­ton re­gion, sup­port eco­nomic growth and boost the re­gion’s pro­duc­tiv­ity,’’ Bridges said.

Im­prov­ing the in­ter­sec­tion at Melling was a top trans­port pri- or­ity for Hutt res­i­dents, Na­tional list MP and Hutt South can­di­date Chris Bishop said.

‘‘Get­ting traf­fic into Lower Hutt faster with­out clog­ging up State High­way 2 will be a big bonus and it’ll be eas­ier for peo­ple to get back across the bridge to the high­way at the end of the day.

‘‘We’re also work­ing with Hutt City Coun­cil to find a re­place­ment op­tion for Melling Bridge, which is the choke-point for wa­ter flow in the Hutt River and just isn’t wide enough to cope with traf­fic needs.

‘‘It’s al­ready been pri­ori­tised by NZTA, so it was go­ing to hap­pen any­way.’’

Labour’s Hutt South can­di­date Ginny An­der­sen said the an­nounce­ment ‘‘seems like a pre­elec­tion lolly scram­ble’’.

‘‘It was pro­posed to go ahead any­way, so I’m a bit con­fused as to why it jus­ti­fied an an­nounce­ment.’’

Con­struc­tion of the in­ter­change would also hap­pen un­der Labour, she said.

Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wal­lace wel­comed the fund­ing for an ‘‘of­ten con­gested’’ in­ter­sec­tion.

‘‘Go­ing for­ward, re­gard­less of who the next gov­ern­ment is, I hope they see the im­por­tance of in­vest­ing in in­fra­struc­ture for a re­gion like ours that is grow­ing so strongly.’’

The new in­ter­change will re­place the cur­rent Melling Bridge/State High­way 2 in­ter­sec­tion. Right, the Melling Bridge.

Bill English

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