Mayors and chairs from the Horizons region are seeking an urgent meeting with Transport Minister Phil Twyford to progress an expressway between Ōtaki and Levin.

The funding needed to beef up State Highway 1 from Ōtaki to north of Levin is not available in this three-year period, and whether there will be enough in the next three years is unknown, New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) director of regional relationships Emma Speight said.

But Horizons Regional Council chairman Bruce Gordon said the group of mayors and chairs had offered NZTA several alternative ways to fund a four-lane expressway reaching from north of Ōtaki to the Waitarere curves north of Levin.

The group has a detailed analysis of population in the region and its transport infrastructure.


"No matter which way you look at it we get underfunded," Gordon said.

"Emma Speight needs to get real with us."

All the region's mayors are willing to join him in a meeting with Twyford, he said.

Funding for state highways was reduced for the 2018-21 period, and will be reduced from 2021 to 2024 too, Speight said.

There is demand for funding, which means NZTA has to carefully align its own programme with the Government's - and safety is the Government's top priority.

That argument doesn't wash, Gordon said, because SH1 between Ōtaki and Levin has one of the highest accident rates in the country. There have been 24 deaths from road accidents during the past 10 years, RNZ reported.

The Ōtaki to north of Levin piece of expressway, dubbed O2NL, was evaluated in 2018, Speight said. At that time NZTA decided to add safety features to the existing two-lane highway and defer making it wider.

It is still trying to get funding from the Government's $1.4 billion Safe Network Programme for the safety features.


The expressway will have to compete with other projects in the next funding round, Speight said. When there is funding, the next step will be a detailed business case and progress toward road design.

But the Horizons region mayors and chairs want NZTA to skip that step and decide where the road will go. At least one business case for it has already been done, Gordon said.

Speight acknowledged that landowners in the path of the expressway want to know where it will go so they can plan their land use.