Lower Hutt residents turn out in force for Melling interchange

Hundreds turned out in Lower Hutt on Saturday calling on the NZTA and Government to hurry up and build the Melling interchange.

The roading project is in planning but won't be considered for funding until at least 2028. National's Chris Bishop says under National leadership it'll be built straight away.

Armed with clever placards and local politicians, Lower Hutt is "yelling for Melling".

The NZTA wants this $140m diamond interchange to be built on State Highway 2. It'd significantly ease congestion and mitigate the $2b flood risk to local homes and businesses caused by the nearby river.

Despite getting the tick of approval from the Transport Minister, no funding is available until 2028 at the earliest.

"It's a real slap in the face for the Hutt Valley," Bishop says. "We need the Transport Agency to commit that money now so that we can get on with the consents and turn the first sods as soon as possible."

It's a sore point for local mayor Ray Wallace. He says it'd cost just $4m over 18 months to get the appropriate consent and says the whole interchange could be built and operating in three years.

"This is urgent for the entire Wellington region," he says. "That's Upper Hutt, the Wairarapa residents that use this road and also the rest of the region."

Melling residents say they feel ignored.

"It's an outrage really that we've got a situation where people are dying on our roads because of a lack of investment," one person told Newshub.

The NZTA acknowledges there's disappointment. It says once the business case is approved it still needs to get consent, acquire property and get construction funding.

That alone could take four to five years.