Ac­tion closer on Melling choke point

The Hutt News - - FRONT PAGE - THOMAS MANCH

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.

STUFF

Traf­fic builds up at the Melling in­ter­sec­tion on State High­way 2.

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