Ex­press­way back­track­ing by NZTA not good enough

Horowhenua Chronicle - - Front Page - By JANINE BAALBERGEN

The may­ors and chairs of the re­gion are throw­ing their hats into the ring on the Horowhenua Ex­press­way.

In a state­ment they say they are dis­ap­pointed with an NZTA of­fi­cial’s com­ments last week that there may not be fund­ing avail­able to “even fig­ure out the fi­nal route of the O¯ taki to north of Levin ex­press­way un­til af­ter 2024”.

Through Ac­cel­er­ate25, and un­der the Ac­cess­ing Cen­tral New Zealand (ACNZ) frame­work, a group of re­gional may­ors and chairs have come to­gether to ad­dress the lat­est road­block on mov­ing the piece of state high­way im­prove­ments.

Palmer­ston North mayor Grant Smith said stalling O2NL is a sig­nif­i­cant is­sue for not only Horowhenua and Ka¯ piti, but for the whole of the North Is­land.

“ON2L im­prove­ments are needed to ad­dress mov­ing lo­gis­tics, freight and peo­ple safely and ef­fi­ciently along the state high­way net­work,” Smith said in the state­ment.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate and un­der­stand the re­straints on avail­able cap­i­tal fund­ing. How­ever the re­gions have missed out to the metro ci­ties for the last 30 years.

“The im­prove­ments are a small amount of money in com­par­i­son to other road­ing projects and it seems non­sen­si­cal to con­tinue putting the project on hold.

“The first stage of the project was to sim­ply des­ig­nate the road, pro­vid­ing res­i­dents a clear un­der­stand­ing of what is ex­pected, and al­low­ing them to plan their lives.

“Last year NZTA’s ap­proved des­ig­na­tion was very much a com­pro­mised po­si­tion that the re­gion re­luc­tantly ac­cepted. For this ini­tial piece to now be de­ferred in­def­i­nitely is un­ten­able.

“As a re­gion, we have been con­sult­ing with NZTA for some time. Clearly we now need to en­gage cen­tral gov­ern­ment.”

The state­ment quotes Horowhenua District Coun­cil chief executive David Clap­per­ton say­ing his coun­cil is ex­tremely con­cerned about NZTA’s back­track­ing.

“There is a mount­ing furore in the Horowhenua com­mu­nity, in par­tic­u­lar from those with land that is closely af­fected,” said Clap­per­ton.

“Not only have liveli­hoods con­tin­ued to be put on hold, the chang­ing vari­ables makes it dif­fi­cult for coun­cil to make longterm plans for the ben­e­fit of our district.”

Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said O2NL is a sig­nif­i­cant piece in the state high­way sys­tem, link­ing Welling­ton to the Cen­tral North Is­land and beyond.

“Traf­fic is­sues and con­straints in this area will only be ex­ag­ger­ated once the Trans­mis­sion Gully ex­press­way is opened next year,” said McDouall.

“Fast, ef­fi­cient and safe road­ing net­works is vi­tal for not just our re­gion’s econ­omy but for the rest of the country.”

Smith said the Horizons Re­gion is uniquely placed in the cen­tre of the lower North Is­land and has strate­gic con­nec­tions north, south, east and west.

“As a re­gion, we want to en­sure cen­tral gov­ern­ment and lo­cal gov­ern­ment fund­ing is op­ti­mised to ben­e­fit so­cial, econ­omy, cul­tural and en­vi­ron­ment out­comes for all.”

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