Action closer on Melling choke point
A clear run through the trafficclogged Melling intersection on State Highway 2 is a step closer.
Three diamond interchange designs for the congested Lower Hutt turn-off were announced yesterday.
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), which has not yet funded the project, is seeking public feedback on designs which will realign the highway and build a new bridge across the Hutt River.
NZTA regional relationships director Emma Speight said the proposals were safer, reduced flood risk, and were accessible to walkers and cyclists.
NZTA scrapped 40 alternate options, such as a reworking of the existing intersection, for failing to solve safety, efficiency and flooding problems.
All of the proposed interchanges have on-and offramps from State Highway 2, and a separate pedestrian and cycleway overbridge.
The first proposal has two traffic light intersections on a new bridge over the Hutt River to Queens Dr. This would provide good walking and cycling connections, and a more compact city centre, NZTA said.
The second proposal would disconnect the Queens Dr bridge from that over the highway, and have three traffic light intersections. The indirect connection onto Queens Dr would reduce traffic more than the first option.
A third proposed interchange has a diamond interchange, like the first proposal, but instead bridges over the river to Melling Link, the location of the existing bridge. This proposed bridge, over the narrowest part of the river, would be at increased flood risk.
As the bridge would be built around existing roading, traffic would be disrupted during construction.
After collecting public submissions, NZTA will decide which is the preferred option and prepare a business case. This will be considered by the NZ Transport Agency Board, which will decide on funding.
If the go-ahead is given, construction is anticipated to begin in 2020.
The RiverLink project team – a conglomerate of NZTA, Hutt City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council – intends to improve flood protection, efficiency of traffic and contribute to the revitalisation of Lower Hutt’s city centre.
In addition to the interchange, the Melling railway station will be shifted south and cycleways improved.
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace said he had been informed a decision from the NZTA board will come in November.
‘‘We really need to see some urgent action on this.’’
While an indicative cost of the project won’t be known until July, the council expected NZTA would provide funding.
‘‘We’re in discussions at the moment, but our view is that this is a massive feeder route, therefore NZTA absolutely has a responsibility.’’
Wallace said he preferred the first proposal. ‘‘But we’ll be guided by what the community tells us.’’
Public submissions are open until Sunday, June 10. Visit riverlink.co.nz.
Traffic builds up at the Melling intersection on State Highway 2.