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Ō2NL is happening

The end of all speculation as assurances given: Ō2NL is happening

It’s over – the speculation about a yes, no or even a maybe for the Horowhenua expressway, that is. And the Government’s commitment to the road has delighted locals, the council and Build Our Road campaigners.

“There has been much conjecture and uncertainty with the project over a number of years now, so to finally hear and read the minister’s commitment to the project is extremely encouraging,“ Horowhenua Mayor Bernie Wanden said.

The council has received assurances from Transport Minister Michael Wood that the Government is committed to the Ōtaki to North Levin highway (Ō2NL), though it is accepted that the planned budget of $1.5 billion will not be enough.

Build Our Road campaign spokesperson Antony Young said: ”This community has experienced a bit of a roller coaster when it comes to the precise status of Ō2NL. But we are of course excited with this confirmation.

“The possibilities are endless for our district as we plan and prepare for this major piece of infrastructure and to secure a more robust, efficient and safer passageway. It can’t come soon enough.”

Wanden said: “While we are still waiting to receive the official green light from Government to proceed with Ō2NL, this is a significant milestone for our district, and we’re excited to be moving forward with this vital infrastructure project.

“We know that the new highway will provide a safer and more efficient transport route for all road users and be transformational in supporting economic growth and development, not only in our district but across the wider region.

“Along with the recent Capital Connection rail announcement, this investment in the region will have significant benefits for all.”

Wanden said that, although there was as yet no official paperwork confirming Wood’s decision, “we have the commitment to go ahead with the expressway in writing”.

The project includes the construction of a four-lane expressway with a range of safety features, including median barriers, wider shoulders and new intersections. Approximately 21 kilometres of the total 24km is proposed to be built within the Horowhenua district.

“We would like to thank the Government for their support and for recognising the importance of this project for our community,” Wanden said.

“We would also like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Waka Kotahi, council staff across the rohe, contractors, technical experts, our partners Muaūpoko Tribal Authority and Ngāti Raukawa and other stakeholders to get it to this stage.”

Construction of Ō2NL and the shared walking and cycling path is expected to begin in 2025 and is scheduled to be completed by 2029. 

“We will work closely with the community and stakeholders during this time to minimise disruption and ensure everyone is informed of progress,” Wanden said.

“This announcement brings us a step closer to safer, easier and faster travel between Levin and the capital. We look forward to delivering this vital project to our community and the benefits it will bring for years.” 

Ō2NL is a Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency project.

The existing state highway network through Horowhenua has some of New Zealand’s most dangerous roads, with 49 deaths and serious injuries in the five years to 2017.

The aim of developing the expressway is to:

· improve road safety

· accommodate population growth – by 2040, more than 130,548 people will live in Horowhenua and Kāpiti

· accommodate expected future traffic volumes

· improve the resilience of the transport network connecting Ōtaki and Levin

· improve regional connectivity by strengthening the strategic economic link from Wellington through to the central North Island.

Original Article published by The Horowhenua Chronicle - read here