Letters sent to Levin residents whose properties may be in way of new highway

Letters have been sent to Levin residents who may have properties in the way of the expanding main road from Wellington.

The Ōtaki to north of Levin roading project will connect with the Kāpiti Expressway on the Wellington Northern Corridor. 

The final route, once connected to the Transmission Gully motorway, is expected to take traffic from Wellington to north of Levin without hitting a traffic light or going through any towns.

Although Levin residents want less traffic in their town centre, some are eager to find out if their homes will be in the way of the new highway. 

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An Arapaepae Rd resident, who did not want to be named, said she received a letter on Monday informing her that her newly purchased property could be used for the roading project.

She and her husband were about to start building a home on the 3-acre (1.2-hectare) property close to State Highway 57. 

"We are living in Auckland at the moment. We are going down for the lifestyle."

The letter did not say how many options were being considered or how likely it was that they would have to give up their property, she said. 

"I guess we'll just wait and see."

The couple have been asked to schedule a meeting with the NZ Transport Agency in the next few weeks to discuss the options. 

"We are only one of many options, from what I understand."

Further along the road, Kathy Sue, owner of Garden of York Fruit and Vegetables, hoped her letterbox would be empty.

She had just bought extra land and was worried her property might be affected, she said. 

Staff member Julia Pope said at least 20 people worked at the business and she too feared losing the land to the bypass.

"It's not acceptable that we should have to wait to see if we get a letter or not to find out about the future."

Transport agency regional relationships director Emma Speight said the agency was working closely with  affected communities and residents. 

"[It] is committed to working with them in order to finalise a preferred corridor and next steps during 2018."

The transport agency would not confirm how many letters were sent to property owners, or how many options and locations were being considered.  

After originally aiming for public consultation at the end of 2017, the second round of public engagement is now scheduled for February. 

"The engagement had been put on hold to enable the transport agency to discuss transport priorities and project timings with the new Government."

Previous public feedback favoured a new highway either to the east or the west of Levin, with strong support for a bypass to ease congestion.

The transport agency would also not confirm when the announcement of a preferred route was expected, but Horowhenua District Council growth response manager Daniel Haigh said it was understood the decision on a preferred route was expected mid-2018.

The council hoped the road would enable more economic growth in Horowhenua, as well as reducing congestion in the district at peak times and improving safety, Haigh said.

"The state highway between Ōtaki and Levin has been classified by the [transport agency] as high risk.

"[The] council understands this translates to approximately 50 death and serious injury accidents every five-year period."

The council was concerned by that figure and welcomed any reduction of the number of crashes, Haigh said. 

"This is a vital outcome for the project."

The council also wanted walking and cycling opportunities considered in the project, he said.

 - Stuff