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Unanimous support for proposed expressway approved

Thursday 5 April 2018

Unanimous support for proposed expressway approved

Horowhenua District Council (Council) approved its feedback to NZ Transport Agency’s (NZTA) proposal to create an expressway from Ōtaki to North of Levin (O2NL) yesterday.

Mayor Michael Feyen said the expressway is key to easing congestion in Levin Town Centre and making our people and those travelling through our beautiful District safe.

“State Highway 1 to the south of Levin closes on a regular basis due to flooding and, sadly, because of horrific accidents that take people’s lives. They cause significant disruption for locals and those travelling through our District.”

Mayor Feyen says the wider community is over the duress caused by uncertainty.

“This project has been on again, off again for nearly a decade. People’s lives and their plans are affected – our residents deserve certainty about the proposed route and also when it will occur.”

The uncertainty has also affected planning by Council, with a number of projects and consultations delayed in the past few years. Later this month, Council will begin to engage residents on Transforming Taitoko – the Levin Town Centre Strategy. Mayor Feyen says the proposed expressway is a key to the strategy.

“It includes a Council Officer proposal to reduce the speed limit through the town centre to 30 kilometres an hour so that we can make our town safer for pedestrians, cyclists and local motorists than is currently the case.”

The feedback, approved by Council at its Strategy Committee meeting on Wednesday 4 April, considers the development of the O2NL project is essential if we are to address:

· the existing serious safety issues on the State Highway network in Horowhenua

· impacts of congestion and safety in Levin Town Centre

· issues of resilience for road users and, in the case of emergency response, for both the Wellington and Manawatū regions

· the provision of certainty to all stakeholders

· opportunities for increasing the economic efficiency and unlocking the potential of Horowhenua, Kāpiti and the lower central North Island.

What happens next?

NZTA considers the feedback it has received and finalises an indicative business case on the preferred alignment.

Council Growth Response Manager Daniel Haigh said Council will endeavour to provide direction on a preferred corridor alignment in the form of further feedback later this month.

“Council has a good understanding of the technical elements,” he said. “However, before advising NZTA of a Council preferred alignment(s), we first need to consider feedback from affected property owners, the wider Horowhenua community and stakeholders.”

At this stage, the expressway is still a proposal. Once the NZ Transport Agency Board has identified a preferred route in the middle of this year, landowners will have more certainty about whether their property will be affected.

NZTA will then need to consider the project in the context of the Government Policy Statement (GPS) on Land Transport 2018-28 (released on 3 April 2018 for consultation), which guides the use of the $4 billion (annual) National Land Transport Fund. Council will be working to understand what the GPS means for the O2NL project and the potential benefits across the wider District and Region that can be delivered with Government’s increased focus on walking and cycling, rail, public transport and regional road improvements.

ENDS

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