14 Jul 2012

Expressway plan dropped to save $300m

8:21 am on 14 July 2012

Transport Agency officials are making a major change to one of the roads of national significance in an effort to save hundreds of millions of dollars.

The northernmost section of the Wellington Northern Corridor, between Otaki and Levin, will no longer be a four lane expressway.

Instead, an existing stretch of State Highway 1 will be upgraded, which the Transport Agency says will cost less than $100 million - about $300 million less than an expressway.

Wellington state highways manager Rod James says cost is a factor in the agency's decision.

He says upgrading the existing road will be quicker, allowing issues such as safety and more passing lanes to be addressed much sooner.

Horowhenua mayor Brendan Duffy says it is disappointing but not surprising that a bypass will now not be built around Levin.

Mr Duffy told Morning Report the traffic bottleneck will be moved from Otaki to Levin, which will not benefit the town.

However he says some safety improvements will be made to the road, which is good news.

Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter says it's inevitable other roads of national significance will be deferred or scaled down given the transport budget is under immense pressure.

The Labour Party says the announcement is sensible, though also a major backdown.