A new expressway in the lower North Island may be closer to fruition. Horowhenua Chronicle editor Janine Baalbergen reports.
A meeting in the capital on Wednesday morning between members of the team fighting for a Levin expressway and Transport Minister Phil Twyford was encouraging, says Build Our Road campaign spokesman Antony Young.
Young, Geoff Lewis and Shanon Grainger met the Minister to discuss the impact on what they called the current failing roading system on their community and the need for a four-lane expressway around Levin to be started as soon as possible.
The minister had indicated he wants to understand better what the situation is like for the community on the ground with the current roads.
The campaign team went to Wellington with what they said were very clear goals on what they wanted to achieve and they did not mince words.
"We want a further commitment from the minister on the time line for the designation of the expressway as well as for the consent work associated with that," Young had said previously.
They made clear the community would like work toward building the expressway to start as soon as possible and asked him to move that timeframe forward.
They also said they wanted the four-lane expressway back on the plan.
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Young said it was clear from all the issues on the existing State Highway what the safety risks were with a two-lane highway as opposed to a four-lane expressway.
Transport industry not impressed with progress
"We gave the minister more local context on the challenges of the current situation, especially on a human level and the toll it is taking on people and business," Young said.
The team had been trying to get the minister's ear for some time. An earlier agreed meeting had been canned by Twyford.
After Wednesday morning's meeting the team said, "We were encouraged to learn that the NZTA are undertaking the business case and designation work concurrently. They have confirmed that this would speed up the planning process.
"We made a strong case for the NZTA to commit to the consenting process earlier to enable the building to get under way and provide more certainty for the community.
"Both the Minister and the officials present have a very clear understanding of the importance of the road to the community," Young said.
It was not all good though.
"We were disappointed that the minister was not prepared to make any further commitment to an accelerated timeframe for the build."
Earlier this week new National Party candidate for Otaki Tim Costley said getting roading infrastructure completed would be a priority of his.
"The current Coalition Government has cancelled the Horowhenua Expressway from Ōtaki to north of Levin, a project committed to by the previous Government."
Last month it was reported the NZ Transport Agency had already spent more than $10 million on the project.