Progress on the Melling Interchange has received a timely boost by the intervention of senior Government minister Chris Hipkins.
Ranked seventh in Cabinet, he recently called a meeting with local mayors and MPs to progress major roading issues in the Hutt Valley.
He has asked the New Zealand Transport Agency to provide a timeline for the business case and design for Melling.
Hutt mayors Ray Wallace and Wayne Guppy welcomed the involvement of the Rimutaka MP and believed progress was now much more likely.
It’s a trick.
This is like the LGWM plan which makes vague promises that maybe in 10 years we may do something.
National promised to fund and build the Melling interchange in 2017. If they had remained Government, construction would probably be starting about now.
Labour cut funding for roads (thanks Julie Anne) and the Government then said it won’t be considered until 2029.
This caused a huge backlash, which is why Hipkins is now trying to sound supportive. But note the total absence of anything concrete.
His aim was to get the project to a point where it could be built as soon as funding became available.
So his aim is not to get it built or funded. Just to get it to a stage where in theory it could happen.
There were a number of major projects that did have funding and it was inevitable that one of those would not proceed.
If that happened, it was important that Melling was at stage where it could pick up that funding, Hipkins said.
So Labour’s cunning plan is to wait for another project to fall over, and then hope people are gullible enough to think the Greens would allow them to spend it on Melling.
Hipkins said he hoped to hear back from NZTA within a few weeks and believed bulldozers would start on Melling well before 2028.
So after the 2020, 2023 and 2026 election.