By ROBYN BRISTOW
A bypass around Woodend is still on the drawing board and could be up to 10 years away.
Waimakariri District Council’s roading manager Ken Stevenson says there may be more clarity around the timing of the bypass to ease traffic congestion and take heavy traffic out of the town’s centre and away from the school, once NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) announces its 2018-2021 programme, next year.
Meanwhile NZTA is endeavouring to ease growing traffic problems in the town and improve safety, with intersection and connectivity improvements, particularly with the new Ravenswood subdivision north of the town beginning to come on stream, says Mr Stevenson.
Even if the priority for the bypass was pushed ahead with “today” it would still be at least five years before it could happen because of the need for property acquisition and detailed design of the bypass.
“The designation is in place and with the current Government spending on infrastructure it is becoming more likely it will happen within 10 years,” says Mr Stevenson.
“We are now waiting for it to be approved from a funding point of view.”
He says a lot of work has been done by NZTA on a Business Case for the highway from the Ashley River to Belfast. It is working alongside the council, stakeholders and communities, asking what the problems are with the roading infrastructure along the stretch of highway and what solutions and programmes could be used to deal with them.
“There have been various workshops and a lot of stakeholders have been involved in highlighting problems and working on solutions. They have worked really well with the community and really engaged with it to get an understanding of the issues and they now have some really good information that will help with planning,” says Mr Stevenson.
“The bypass is part of this programme. But there is nothing specific around timing, although the alignment and designation has been done,” says Mr Stevenson.
The bypass is proposed to come off the end of the motorway at Pine Acres, travel behind Ready Mix and curl around and join up with State Highway One just south of the Pegasus
roundabout which will be rebuilt and made much bigger.
He says a plan by Progressive for a supermarket on the former Woodend Hotel site has also been caught up in the roading woes.
NZTA and the council have both expressed strong reservations about the difficulties of people entering and exiting the site on to an already busy part of the highway where the Rangiora-Woodend Road joined the highway on one side and Woodend Beach Road on the other.