Otaki - Levin: Will the road go ahead?

The fate of a planned upgrade to a 20km stretch of SH1 in Wellington is uncertain.
The fate of a planned upgrade to a 20km stretch of SH1 in Wellington is uncertain. Photo credit: Getty/ file

The future of a major upgrade to a stretch of State Highway 1 is unclear.

Otaki to north of Levin is a section of the Wellington Northern Corridor that stretches about 20km - previously referred to as a Road of National Significance (RON). It's expected to cost over $100 million.

Since the Government announced its huge transport overhaul on Monday, there have been contradictory media reports about this section - NZME reports it's going ahead, while Stuff says the future hangs in limbo, so Newshub tried to get to the bottom of it and faced an information-go-round.

On Monday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford was asked if all the previous Government's RONs would be completed. He said yes.

When we asked the minister's office on Friday whether this particular section would go ahead a spokeswoman couldn't offer precise details, telling Newshub we should "google it".

The spokeswoman referred us to the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), saying it was "operational" and the agency would have more information.

NZTA provided a statement from its director of regional relationships Emma Speight, which didn't give a concrete answer either.

"The Transport Agency cannot comment on future plans for specific transport projects, including Otaki to north of Levin, until the public engagement process has been completed and the final GPS (Government policy statement) has been adopted."

NZTA's media team then suggested we also ask the minister's office about it.

While other sections of the Northern Corridor are underway, Otaki to North of Levin is still in the "investigation" phase - that's what's causing the confusion.

Horowhenua Mayor Michael Feyen says he isn't entirely sure where the project is at.

"I'm reading in the media the expressway is going ahead, but in terms of contact... we had nothing from the minister or Government."

That media he's referring to is an article from the Horowhenua Chronicle referring to Mr Twyford's comments from the Monday press conference.

Although he is confused about the project's future, Mr Feyen is feeling optimistic about the project going ahead and is understanding.

"We have a new Government and it takes a heck of a lot for a new Government to impose things."

And he has a message for the decision-makers - if it's all signed off, he wants the construction to start at Levin.  

"We are such a congested area so why not start at our end? I think it's a no brainer that you start at Levin."