Canterbury bypass eyed as toll road

Transport Minister Simeon Brown (left) visited Woodend last year to discuss transport issues with...
Transport Minister Simeon Brown (left) visited Woodend last year to discuss transport issues with AA Canterbury / West Coast district councillor Alan Turner and Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey. Photo: David Hill / North Canterbury News
Motorists could be paying a toll to drive through a new bypass on State Highway 1 in Canterbury once it has been completed.

Meanwhile, planned safety improvements in the area have been canned for now as officials review the work as part of the Woodend Bypass design.

The government is considering a proposal for its promised roads of national significance to be partially funded by a toll.

NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi said the Woodend Bypass had been confirmed as one of the first five roads of national significance and that a safety review would be undertaken.

Associate Transport Minister Matt Doocey said the government had backed recommendations by NZTA to introduce tolls in its Government Policy Statement on Land Transport.

‘‘As a government, we are open to a wide range of funding tools to ensure we are able to deliver the roads that will allow Kiwis and freight to get to where they want to go quickly and safely.’’

Safety improvements for Woodend’s Main North Road were announced in December 2022, as part of a $35 million funding package for State Highway 1 between Saltwater Creek and Cam River, with work due to begin this year.

NZTA had previously said the safety improvements were on hold, pending the revised policy statement on Land Transport.

Doocey said it made sense to have another look at the work programme.

The Kaiapoi-Woodend cycleway will connect the Passchendaele Pathway (pictured, between Kaiapoi...
The Kaiapoi-Woodend cycleway will connect the Passchendaele Pathway (pictured, between Kaiapoi and Rangiora) and the Rangiora-Woodend Pathway. Photo: David Hill / North Canterbury News
‘‘When you look at the Woodend safety improvement programme, it was in response to Labour cancelling the bypass, so it is right to relook at that programme in the context of the new motorway.’’

The former government included the Woodend Bypass in its policy statement on Land Transport announced in August 2023.

Funding was also announced in December 2022 for a $6 million project, including cycleways linking Kaiapoi, Woodend and Pegasus, as part of NZTA’s Transport Choices Programme.

But the programme was axed last December by the new government.

Doocey said the proposed cycleways and an underpass at the Pegasus roundabout would be considered as part of the final bypass design.

‘‘When you look at the Christchurch Northern Corridor, the (Christchurch to Kaiapoi) cycleway was an important part of it, so I think it would make sense to consider the cycleways and an underpass as part of the bypass design.’’

Woodend-Sefton Community Board chairperson Shona Powell said she welcomed news about the bypass, but the safety improvements were needed now.

‘‘It will take several years to build the bypass. It is just getting frustrating.’’

Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon said he had been seeking clarity about the promised safety improvements without success.

But he welcomed Doocey’s comments that the cycleway and under-pass would be considered as part of the final design.

‘‘It makes total sense to construct this as part of the works and I know the community would be thrilled to have these included.

‘‘This is an incredibly important project for our district and I am delighted by the depth of consideration the government is giving to it.’’

He would also like to see a cycleway clip-on added to the State Highway 1 bridge over the Ashley-Rakahuri River.

The council has been planning the Kaiapoi to Woodend and Woodend to Pegasus cycleways for several years, along with a Rangiora (Southbrook) cycleway.

Proposed safety improvements had included road widening, wider centrelines and safety barriers, and reducing the speed to 60kmh at the Pegasus roundabout, which would have become one lane with raised safety platforms.

Traffic lights were also proposed at the Rangiora-Woodend Rd intersection, roundabouts at the Woodend Beach Rd and Williams St intersections and a crossing refuge for people using bus stops near Pineacres.

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

■ LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.