Big step forward for expressway
Wednesday afternoon was a big step forward for the O2NL roading project. While nothing concrete has been decided on the route or timing of the project it was extremely reassuring to hear that it is still going to happen. Although there will be some who think a two-lane highway is not an ideal situation compared to a four-lane expressway, it is a huge step forward compared to not having a new road at all, as many had predicted.
While initially only twolane, the new road will be designated to ensure that when demand and traffic volumes grow there is the capacity to add another two lanes. Besides the proposed new highway, there will be safety improvements for SH1 and SH57, plus a focus on providing public transport in the region, whether it be rail or bus.
On Wednesday, NZ Transport Authority (NZTA) presented to Council the way forward for the project, indicating that the project aligns with the Government’s Policy Statement and transport priorities, that it provides the right outcomes in terms of safety and resilience, and that it is value for money.
NZTA confirmed that the preferred route will be from the short-listed options already on the table and will be made public in December. I know this means there is still some uncertainty for many residents, but hopefully the long wait will be over shortly and you will be able to get on and plan your futures.
This is good news for the future of the district and will only enhance the growth that is already happening. While the actual road may be some years away from being completed, it will give confidence to those thinking of coming here and to those already here that this district is a great place to invest in.
Our challenge now is of course to make sure we are ready and prepared for that growth: that we make Levin town centre an attractive and vibrant place; that we provide the amenities and infrastructure to ensure Horowhenua continues to be a great place to live, and that we make our community a resilient and safe one.
The new highway will only be one aspect of that, but it is an important part of the puzzle to ensure we have a positive future.