PHOTO: Horowhenua Expressway. NZTA
The Horowhenua District Council Expresses Frustration Over Ō2NL Expressway Funding
The Horowhenua District Council recently found itself in a state of frustration and disappointment due to the latest communication from the Government regarding the much-awaited Horowhenua Expressway (Ō2NL). Transport Minister David Parker had previously sent a non-committal letter to the council, leaving the councillors unimpressed and seeking more certainty on the matter.
A Stern Reply to the Transport Minister
In response to the Minister’s vague communication, the council penned a stern reply expressing their concerns and seeking clarity. Their response had the desired effect, prompting the Minister to acknowledge the situation as an “administrative error.”
Uncertainty Surrounding Funding
The Ō2NL expressway project, estimated to cost around $1.5 billion, has already received approval for the pre-implementation phase, involving property purchases, procurement, consents, and site investigations. However, the funding for the construction phase is still awaiting approval from the joint ministers, leading to uncertainty among the local council and community.
The Horowhenua District Council had previously received assurances from former Minister of Transport Michael Wood and media coverage that the Ō2NL expressway project was set to proceed. However, the recent lack of commitment from the Government, particularly the Cabinet, left the council feeling frustrated. This lack of progress affects not only local business development but also creates uncertainty for homeowners and hampers council development plans.
Importance of Ō2NL Project
The Ō2NL project is a crucial infrastructure development that includes the construction of a four-lane expressway with various safety features, such as median barriers, wider shoulders, new intersections, and a shared walking and cycling pathway. The majority of the new highway, approximately 21 kilometers out of 24km, is proposed to be built within the Horowhenua District. For the community, the project promises safer roads, improved access to social and economic opportunities, enhanced transport choices, and greater resilience.
Seeking Certainty for the Community
Deputy Mayor David Allan emphasized the significance of the Ō2NL project for the people of Horowhenua and beyond. He expressed concern over the misleading impression created by central government, which had suggested the project was on track to commence in 2025, despite the lack of committed funding for its construction. The delay in funding approval leaves some members of the community in a state of uncertainty, hindering their progress and development.
In conclusion, the Horowhenua District Council remains steadfast in its pursuit of assurances from the Government to ensure the funding for the Ō2NL expressway project is secured. They believe that this project’s completion is vital for the region’s growth, safety, and overall prosperity.