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The New Zealand Transport Agency must commit to funding a detailed business case and resource consent for a Melling Interchange when it meets this week, Hutt South MP Chris Bishop says.

In April, NZTA announced funding for the new interchange would not be considered until 2029. It did not commit to funding the detailed business case and resource consents, saying they would be considered in “early 2020”.

“I’m pleased to say that after intense pressure from myself as local MP, Hutt Valley mayors Ray Wallace and Wayne Guppy, and from hundreds of Hutt residents, NZTA is now looking at committing that funding earlier than planned.

“I understand the NZTA board will, on Friday, decide whether the agency will join its partners in the RiverLink project – Hutt City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council – and undertake the detailed planning and resource consent phase contemporaneously.

“Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace has previously said that if NZTA does not join with his council, it will consider funding the work itself. Ratepayers shouldn’t have to stump up $4 million to do this.

“While NZTA’s involvement won’t solve the underlying problem of the Government not wanting to fund construction until at least 2029, it will at least mean some progress.

“The Government has cut $5 billion from the state highway budget and the consequences of that are being felt in the Hutt. Rimutaka MP Chris Hipkins’ recent meeting with NZTA laid the facts bare: the funding cuts have meant projects like Melling and the Petone to Grenada link road have either been significantly delayed or cancelled.

“The best thing Hipkins could do as a local MP is to tell his colleague, Transport Minister Phil Twyford, to increase state highway funding.”

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