Phil Twyford needs to be honest about the fact that the Melling Interchange is still no closer to being built by his Government, Hutt South MP Chris Bishop says.
“The Minister’s comment in Parliament that the interchange has been ‘brought forward’ is comically depressing and shows how out of touch his Government is on transport in Hutt Valley.
“Earlier this year, National Party Leader Simon Bridges stood on the roadside at Melling and committed to starting construction of Melling in National’s first term if elected in 2020.
“There has been no such promise from Phil Twyford. All his Government has done is cut $5 billion from the state highway budget to pay for light rail in Auckland, pushing back Melling’s construction as a result.
“Funding Melling’s resource consent doesn't solve the problem of there being no commitment from the Government to fund its construction until 2029 at the earliest.
“Hutt Valley residents are rightly furious about that as the face the prospect of another 12 years, at least, of stewing in gridlock.
“In Parliament, I asked the Minister why the $313 million recently reallocated by NZTA from light rail into state highways had not gone towards projects that were scrapped or stalled by the Government, such as Melling, Ōtaki to Levin, the Tauranga Northern Link and others.
“Despite there being plenty of money in the kitty now because of Labour’s failure to deliver on its light rail promise, not one cent of reallocated money will go towards these projects.
“Phil Twyford has previously described these projects as having ‘very low economic value’. The people of Lower Hutt do not think Melling is of low value, and I will be campaigning hard to bring forward its construction.”