Community leader praises Woodend Bypass progress

Community leader praises Woodend Bypass progress

A Canterbury community leader is pleased the Woodend Bypass is finally underway, but hopes promised safety improvements will not be forgotten.

Woodend-Sefton Community Council chairwoman Shona Powell said residents had been waiting for safety improvements since New Zealand’s Waka Kotahi Transport Agency began consulting with the community eight years ago.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown and Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey visited Woodend on Friday (July 5) to announce that planning for the Belfast-Pegasus motorway, which includes the bypass, will begin.

“I’m glad we’re making progress and we can say, ‘Yes, this is going to happen,'” Ms. Powell said.

”It’s been very difficult for a lot of people for a long time and now we just want to see things moving forward.

”We want to see Woodend as a community without State Highway 1 running through it.”

Proposed safety improvements included road widening, wider centre lines and safety barriers, roundabouts at the intersections of Woodend Beach Road and Williams Street, and a crossing refuge for people using bus stops near Pine Acres.

Ms Powell has also advocated for a pedestrian and cycle underpass between Pegasus and Ravenswood, along with proposed cycle paths to link Woodend with Kaiapoi and Pegasus.

She said there were also security concerns north of Pegasus.

Residents successfully lobbied for a 80 km/h speed limit between Pegasus and Waikuku, and a 60 km/h limit in Waikuku.

Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon is also lobbying to replace the Ashley River SH1 bridge with a wider bridge and supported cycle path.

Friday’s announcement allows Waka Kotahi to continue planning the Woodend bypass route, designing the work and calculating the cost of the project.

”This will help increase productivity and facilitate faster movement of freight around New Zealand,” Mr Brown said.

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

The agency was asked to consider all financing options, including tolling and public-private partnerships.

“If the toll is what is recommended, we will do it,” Mr Brown said.

Waka Kotahi regional relations director James Caygill said the announcement allowed the agency to talk to landowners and review the route to see what had changed in the past 10 years.

”Ravenswood didn’t exist 10 years ago and there’s been a lot of growth.”

A route 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 that the agency was aware of two gravel lakes near Pine Acres.

A flyover and cycle paths linking Woodend with Pegasus and Kaiapoi were also “under discussion”, he said.

Mr Gordon said the Woodend Bypass was one of the biggest road projects the district had ever seen.

”We welcome this direction and want to see it completed. The community has been waiting a long time.”

He said the council was keen to see 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 journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.