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Frustration . . . Resident representatives Ian Lennie, left, and Mark Paterson are angered that the Woodend bypass now appears to be in the planning wilderness. Photo: Robyn Bristow

 

By Robyn Bristow

The future of the Woodend Bypass is again in jeopardy.

It is missing from the New Zealand Transport Agency’s Investment Proposal (TAIP) 10-year draft plan leaving the Pegasus Residents’ Group and the Woodend Community Association dumbfounded.

The revelation it was off the Transport Agency’s table came at the annual meeting of the Pegasus Residents’ Group, just three months after Transport Minister Phil Twyford insisted the bypass remained on track.

The latest snub appears to be another blow for a bypass that has been debated for at least two decades and it now seems likely even if it makes it into the plan in years to come, will not become a reality for around 20 years or more.

All that remains in the draft plan is an item safety detailed business case phase, but without a year assigned to it giving it any priority.

Ian Lennie, chair of the Pegasus Group and Mark Paterson, president of the Woodend Community Association are angry the bypass has again being delayed and worried about the safety of their residents, Woodend School children, and visitors.

They are urging the work in the Woodend Corridor Safety item to begin immediately to protect its residents, school children and pedestrians.

They say the conflict between pedestrians, cars and heavy traffic is growing and will increase with up to 28,000 vehicles per day predicted to travel through the town in the near future, making it more and more dangerous for those who live there or travel in to the town to do business.

Messrs Lennie and Paterson say the roundabout on the main highway linking Pegasus and one in the new subdivision of Ravenswood designed to take the re-routed Woodend traffic, was built by the Transport Agency as part of the overall package to get traffic out of the town. Now it appears re-routing traffic is on the back burner.

Mr Paterson says the stretch of the highway through Woodned will become more and more dangerous as traffic increases, particularly when a third lane is built on the Waimakariri Bridge is three-laned.

He says the bottle-neck will shift from the bridge and push further north and eventually also impact on Woodend.

“I am angry and if it goes into the next 10-year plan the highway through Woodend will have become extremely dangerous, particularly with 900 new sections coming on line in Ravenswood,” says Mr Paterson.

“It is pretty disappointing.”

Jim Harland, Director Regional Relationships, NZ Transport Agency says the Transport Agency remains committed to working closely with central and local government, communities and key stakeholders to deliver solutions that meet transport needs now and for the future.

He says the draft Transport Agency Investment Proposal (TAIP), sets out the investment approach and proposed programme of activities across all modes of transport for the next ten years and will “strongly influence which projects and programmes of work the Transport Agency’s progresses and when”.

Mr Harland says the Transport Agency has been guided by the new priorities and strategic direction set out in the Government’s draft Policy Statement (GPS) which signals a new direction for land transport investment in New Zealand and which will be adopted by the Government on June 30.

He says the Transport Agency has responded to the changes in the draft GPS which lays out four new priorities and six objectives – safety, improved transport access to economic and social opportunities as well as providing more resilience and choice, better environmental outcomes and infrastructure which delivers the best value for money.

The Waimakariri District Council has submitted on the GPS supporting safety improvements along the Woodend Corridor but is concerned the bypass might be delayed or suspended due to safety concerns.

Regional Transport Committees are now required to align their projects to the (GPS), and submit these via their Regional Land Transport Plans to the Transport Agency, to be included in the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP), for adoption by August 31.

Mr Harland says the Belfast to Pegasus motorway extension is not included in the draft TAIP, however its a draft document and open for consideration by Regional Transport Committees as part of their Regional Land Transport Plans (RLTPs) to meet national and regional objectives.

Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey is concerned and “gutted” for Woodend and Pegasus residents.

“Woodend and Pegasus constituents are telling me they were told the focus is instead on public transport in the main cities.

“Why have important factors in deciding the need for the Woodend Bypass, such as population growth and increasing traffic volumes, been replaced by the need to cut regional highway funding to pay for public transport in Auckland?” he says.

Mr Doocey said North Canterbury communities deserved clear answers.

Mr Paterson says the highway through Woodend will become more dangerous as traffic increases, particularly when a third lane is built on the Waimakariri bridge.
He says the bottleneck will shift from the bridge further north and eventually
affect Woodend.

“I am angry and if it goes into the next 10-year plan the highway through Woodend will have become extremely dangerous, particularly with 900 new sections coming on line in
Ravenswood. It is pretty disappointing.”

The director of regional relationships with the Transport Agency, Jim Harland, says his organisation remains committed to working closely with central and local government,
communities and key stakeholders to deliver transport solutions.

He says the TAIP sets out the investment approach and proposed programme across all
modes of transport for the next 10 years and will strongly influence priorities.

Mr Harland says the agency has been guided by the new priorities and strategic direction set out in the Government’s draft Policy Statement (GPS).

It signals a new direction for land transport investment and will be adopted by the Government on June 30.

He says the agency has responded to the changes in the draft GPS, which lays out four
new priorities and six objectives – safety, improved transport access to economic and
social opportunities, as well as providing more resilience and choice, better environmental
outcomes, and infrastructure that delivers the best value.

Mr Harland says the Belfast to Pegasus motorway extension is not included in the draft
TAIP. However, it is a draft document and open for consideration by regional transport
committees.

Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey is concerned and “gutted” for Woodend and Pegasus
residents.

“Woodend and Pegasus constituents are telling me they were told the focus is instead
on public transport in the main cities. Why have important factors in deciding the need for
the Woodend bypass, such as population growth and increasing traffic volumes, been
replaced by the need to cut regional highway funding to pay for public transport in Auckland?”

Mr Doocey say local communities deserve clear answers.

The Waimakariri District Council is believed to have submitted on the GPS in support of safety improvements along the Woodend corridor, and stated its concern the bypass might be delayed or suspended.

Its communications and engagement manager, Matt McIlraith, said changes to Government
priorities signalled in the draft GPS suggested greater uncertainty around the timing of big
motorway projects, but it was too soon to tell what this meant for the Woodend Bypass.

“The council continues to be concerned about the safety and amenity impacts of the state
highway running through Woodend.”

The council argues that certainty is required around the project to enable the community to plan confidently for the future.