Community feedback on Horowhenua District Council's Integrated Transport Strategy so far has been great, said the council's senior policy advisor Cynthia Ward.

"People can provide feedback and ideas on any of the issues discussed in the strategy, so cyclists respond to the cycling part of the strategy."

By last Friday 115 people had taken part in the online survey. You have until this Friday December 6 to have your say.

"From the feedback so far it is clear what the priorities are for the community: the expressway, safety along SH 1/ 57 and the turnoff to coastal communities. Public transport is fourth and an upgrade to the Levin train station. They also want more shared pathways."

Advertisement

Horowhenua has a strategic position on the junction of SH57 and SH1 and is an important freight corridor for the nation with the Main Trunk line running right through too, but transport options for locals are very limited.

Better public transport is a high priority for Horowhenua residents.
Better public transport is a high priority for Horowhenua residents.

Horowhenua District Council Integrated Transport Strategy (HITS) is looking at plans to change that. It aims to create several safe, functional and integrated transport options that meets the needs of residents, especially those who have little or no access to private modes of transport, with an acceptable level of service.

The strategy focuses on seven areas: access, road and rail safety, public transport choices, active travel (walking, cycling), resilience, freight and logistics, town centres.

Getting residents out walking and cycling instead of driving is being promoted with plans to expand and better connect the various shared walkways around the district as well as providing end-of-trip facilities at key destinations. That means toilets, showers, secure storage and parking facilities and access to public transport services.

The council intends to develop an integrated multi-modal transport system for passengers and freight that provides a range of options as well as alternatives with a passenger transport hub in Levin town centre and a freight hub south of Ōhau.

The strategy also discusses alternative travel choices, include rideshare, shared vehicle options and the retention of the Capital Connection and existing bus services to and from Palmerston North and Waikanae.

"Good access to and from Horowhenua is under pressure due to population and traffic growth both locally and regionally," Cynthia Ward, principal policy advisor for the council said.

Reality on the ground is journey time reliability is diminishing, there are fewer connections between town centres, traffic congestion occurs on SH1 at peak times and holidays, and there is increasing congestion around Ōhau in off-peak, with no alternative route between Ōhau and Manakau and limited public transport options and cycle infrastructure overall.

Advertisement

Accessibility concerns have heightened in the community since the Ō2NL (expressway) delay was announced, which begs the question: how to access transport options until the new road takes shape, which may not happen until 2030?

High on the council list is the expressway and council intends to continue to advocate with NZTA to advance Ō2NL as soon as possible.

Council is also looking at upgrades of intersections, road widening, improving road shoulders, and establishing new local roads to reduce reliance on state highways and it wants to invest heavily in shared pathways.

Safe access to east and south-east Levin is also a priority with at least one SH in the way and no safe ways to cross right now. That side of Levin is a growth areas with the planned Gladstone Green housing development and the Tararua Industrial Business Park, so traffic across SH57 is likely to increase.

Shared Pathways such as this one along Arapaepae Road are popular with walkers and cyclists.
Shared Pathways such as this one along Arapaepae Road are popular with walkers and cyclists.

Better public transport is definitely an option to get the district moving, but there are concern over safety issues along SH1 that need looking at, and an upgrade of the Levin railway station is suggested, with safe access and better signs there.

Improving total mobility services, facilitating hospital visits for locals and connections with smaller and between communities, such as Foxton Foxton Beach, Waitarere Beach, Tokomaru, Shannon, Hokio Beach, Manakau and Ōhau are also on the priority list.

This strategy needs cooperation from Wellington and Horizons Regional Councils and NZTA. "These days we see the lower North Island is one region when it comes to transport and we work well with NZTA, Wellington and Horizons regional councils to ensure we are included in all their plans."

Promotion of public transport and Health Shuttle services are discussed in the strategy as well as an investigation of and lobbying for a central Levin Transport Hub and an intermodal Freight Hub connecting road to rail, which would take a lot of trucks off SH1 and SH57.

Horowhenua has 10km of shared pathways – but these are not well connected. Lack of safety, facilities such as bike racks, toilets at start or end of those pathways make people more inclined to use their cars.

Council has plans for a 20-year programme for change this and also wants to investigate an alternative route south of Ōhau.

The strategy forecasts a change to in the size of transport vehicles (forestry and defence), and an increase in rail freight.

"Growth in rail will make roads safer, but needs to be well integrated."

An Intermodal freight hub south of Levin would relief road congestion and support district's own industrial growth, the strategy said.

For Levin town centre the strategy talks about public transport hub right in the town centre, but will need enhancing of pedestrian experiences and access to plenty of car parking to make this attractive enough for people to use.

Community surveys done have shown that residents would like better public transport options as well as cycling facilities and safer roads.

Feedback on the strategy needs to be in by the end of the first week of December, but that deadline is a bit flexible, but don't delay and have your say.

For more information on the strategy:
www.horowhenua.govt.nz/Council/Have-Your-Say/HITS-Priority-Transport-Initiatives