Transport Minister Michael Wood has affirmed the Government’s support for building the Ōtaki to North of Levin (Ō2NL) highway.
“The Government is committed to delivering Ōtaki to North of Levin (Ō2NL) highway, as set out in the business case, through the NZUP programme.
“The business case proposes a four-lane highway with a walking and cycling path, which the Government has agreed to and committed $1.5 billion of funding.
“I’m pleased the project is progressing well, with property acquisition well under way.
“Construction is expected to begin in 2025.
“The Ōtaki to North Levin (Ō2NL) proposed new highway will improve safety, improve resilience, and provide better access to walking and cycling facilities for people moving around or through the Horowhenua District and lower North Island.
“The new highway will also provide a much-needed alternative route and build resilience into the state highway network for when State Highway 1 is closed by crashes or weather-related events.”
Woods’ comments come after National Party candidate for Ōtaki, Tim Costley, said the Government “needs to come clean and tell us what is happening” regarding the proposed new highway.
“Rumours are rife that Ōtaki to north Levin is on the chopping block.
“Ōtaki residents deserve answers.”
He said Labour cancelled Ō2NL in 2018 and “that delay has caused huge cost increases and left commuters travelling on one of the most dangerous stretches of road in New Zealand”.
“If the road was built to the original timeline, and not continually cancelled and delayed, it could have been around half the price, saving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, and kept the travelling public safe while they drive to work or school.
“This road is vital to our region and our economy.”
Costley said the “new expressways through our region have removed congestion and saved dozens of lives”.
“NZTA statistics show that since National funded and built the Kāpiti Expressway, now extending to Ōtaki in the north and Transmission Gully in the south, not a single life has been lost on these new, safe, world class roads.
“By contrast, nine people lost their lives on Horowhenua roads in 2022, and a further nine in 2021.
“Since 2000, there have been 39 fatal crashes on SH1 between Levin and Ōtaki, costing more than 40 lives.
“Another nine fatal crashes have occurred on the section of SH57 that Ō2NL would also replace.
“We know that Ō2NL will save lives, remove congestion, and speed up our community and our economy.
“Less time sitting in slow roads also means fewer emissions. This is a no-brainer.”
Read the original article published by NZME Horowhenua Chronicle here
Transport Minister Michael Wood. Photo / Jason Oxenham