“While it’s good that the NZTA Board has endorsed the recommended option of a diamond interchange connecting to Queens Drive as part of the proposed Melling transport improvements, that’s about where the good news ends. Given that funding for construction will not be considered until at least 2028, today’s announcement is letting the entire Hutt Valley down,” said Mayor Wallace.
“The Melling Interchange Upgrade will provide the infrastructure to support multi-modal transport choices and greatly improve safety on SH2, which are both key aspects of the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport. Minister Twyford has been out and visited the Melling Interchange and even said himself that the project ticks all of the boxes for the Government.”
Mayor Wallace says the delay will constrain the delivery of the full benefits of the RiverLink project in terms of flood protection and urban development, and the wider economic benefits and opportunities for the entire city will not be realised until it’s completed in full.
“In the meantime, residents and businesses in the lower reaches of the Hutt Valley remain at serious risk of a devastating flood, the opportunities for urban growth are curtailed, and residents of Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and Wairarapa are relegated to sitting in worsening traffic and navigating a dangerous intersection for years to come. Not good enough.”
“Why must we wait and jeopardise the lives and livelihoods of our residents and businesses? With the amount of money being spent in other parts of the country, this is an incredibly bitter pill to swallow.”
NZTA’s announcement says that they will look at the next stages of detailed design and consenting in 2020. Based on that, submitters to the regulatory process will need to make two submissions on RiverLink, one in 2019 and the second in 2020.
Mayor Wallace is calling on NZTA to bring that piece of work forward by one year and start that work now, alongside Hutt City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council.
“This will make for a more joined up project and also provide more clarity to residents and submitters to the process.”
Mayor Wallace intends to meet with Transport Minister Phil Twyford to express his disappointment with today’s announcement and to emphasise the need for all partner agencies to work together on this important project for Lower Hutt.