The NZ Transport Agency has today announced its support for protecting a bypass route for Woodend.
NZTA State Highway Manager Colin Knaggs says after more than half a century of uncertainty, the local community now have a decision on a bypass and NZTA will seek to protect the route, running east of the town, with a designation under the Resource Management Act.
“We intend to lodge an application with the Waimakariri District Council in the next few months to get the route designated under their District Plan. This is likely to go through a public process where the community will have further opportunity to comment on the preferred option.”
There was a designated Woodend bypass in the 1960s but this was uplifted in the 1990s because NZTA’s predecessor Transit was unable to commit to the construction of it. Since that time, Transit and then NZTA working with the Waimakariri District Council have continued to investigate options for bypassing Woodend to provide planning certainty for the Waimakariri district.
During the last year, NZTA has widely consulted with the community on widening the existing State Highway 1 route through the town and the alternative eastern bypass route.
“The majority of the community want us to reduce the impact the highway has on Woodend. It currently runs through the town, cutting it in two and creating traffic congestion, safety issues and traffic delays.
“The only viable alternative to the bypass would be to four-lane the state highway through Woodend. This would result in greater severance of the community and have a greater impact on the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.”
Mr Knaggs says the new eastern bypass alignment is likely to remove 80 per cent of the traffic that passes through the town. Currently this is 14,000 vehicles each day, of which about 10 per cent are heavy vehicles. As a result, there will be less traffic congestion, noise and air pollution; safety and travel times will improve; and the route will be more efficient and reliable.
The NZTA has no plans to build the route in the next 15 years. “In identifying the preferred solution, we will now seek to protect the bypass route for the future because of the on-going development pressure in the area.
“This will give the community the certainty it has been looking for and allow controlled development of the area to progress,” he says.