Minister pushes ahead with Woodend Bypass, toll considered

Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey and Transport Minister Simeon Brown announce the Belfast to Pegasus...
Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey and Transport Minister Simeon Brown announce the Belfast to Pegasus Motorway will be built at the Pegasus roundabout on Friday morning. Photo: David Hill / North Canterbury News
Transport Minister Simeon Brown has given the green light for planning to begin on the long-awaited Woodend Bypass, with a toll among the funding options being considered.

Mr Brown joined Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey at the Pegasus Roundabout in Canterbury on Friday to announce planning will begin on the Belfast to Pegasus Motorway, which includes the bypass on State Highway 1.

It was one of the first seven projects in the Roads of National Significance signalled in the Government Policy Statement.

The announcement allows Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency to begin planning the route, design work and costing the project.

‘‘It will help boost productivity and facilitate the faster movement of freight across New Zealand,’’ Mr Brown said.

‘‘Locally, the Woodend Bypass is important for Christchurch, Canterbury and the South Island.

‘‘This project has been talked about for too long and we going to get it back on track.’’

State Highway 1 currently cuts through the town of Woodend, slowing traffic and raising safety concerns.

Mr Brown said more details would be included in the National Land Transport Plan which is due to be released in September.

The agency has been asked to consider all funding options, including a road toll and public/private partnerships.

‘‘I am expecting tolling assessments to be made for every Road of National Significance,’’ Mr Brown said.

‘‘If tolling is what is recommended, we will do it.’’

Waka Kotahi director regional relationships, James Caygill, said the agency has been waiting for the minister’s announcement.

‘‘He has told us to ‘get on with it’ and now we can go out and talk to landowners, and go out and re-look at the route and see what has changed in the last 10 years.

‘‘Ravenswood wasn’t here 10 years ago and there has been a lot of growth.’’

A route to the east of Woodend, from Pine Acres, north of Kaiapoi, to the Pegasus Roundabout was designated for the Woodend Bypass by Waka Kotahi in 2014.

Mr Caygill said the Pegasus Roundabout would need to be replaced and the agency was aware of two shingle pit lakes near Pine Acres, which would all be considered in the design process.

A pedestrian and cycle underpass between Pegasus and Ravenswood, and proposed cycle ways linking Woodend with Pegasus and Kaiapoi were also ‘‘on the table’’, he said.

Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon said the Woodend Bypass was a priority for the district.

‘‘The Minister’s message is very clear. We welcome that direction and we want to see it completed.

‘‘The community has been waiting for a long time.

‘‘This is probably the largest roading project our district has seen.’’

Mr Gordon said the council looked forward to seeing the detailed design and was ready to partner with Waka Kotahi to see the bypass delivered.

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

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