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Hutt City's RiverLink all go, despite claims by MP that it faces delay

1 March 2023

A claim by National list MP Chris Bishop that the Melling Interchange and the wider RiverLink project is facing a delay have been rejected by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

Bishop is claiming there was doubt over the future of the Melling Interchange as it was being “rescoped” and could be delayed.

Waka Kotahi general manager of transport services, Brett Gliddon​ said that was not correct and the project had not been rescoped or delayed.

“The RiverLink project has been granted resource consents, procurement is underway and remains on track, with main construction beginning later this year.”

The interchange on SH2 is a key component of RiverLink, which also includes upgrading stopbanks in the central city and urban planning to turn the city towards the river.

The Hutt City Council hopes the project would boost the local economy and see thousands of new apartments built.

In 2021, the Government announced that the cost of the interchange had increased by $162m, bringing the total cost to $420m.

Greater Wellington chairperson Daran Ponter said that work is scheduled to begin later this year removing buildings so work can begin on upgrading flood defences.

If Waka Kotahi was to delay the Melling Interchange, Greater Wellington would still go ahead with work around resilience, he said.

Like large projects across the country, RiverLink is likely to rise in cost and Greater Wellington would deal with that once the cost became clearer, Ponter said.

Hutt City Council chief executive Jo Miller said the council is planning to start work on its part of the project this year.

She said he city is on the biggest floodplain in Australasia, and the central city was vulnerable to a catastrophic flood until the stop banks are upgraded.

“If the last couple of weeks has taught us anything it is that resilience has to be a priority.”

Hutt South MP Ginny Andersen said Bishop had got it wrong.

“Comments made by Chris Bishop are factually incorrect, I’m sure he will be happy to hear that the Minister of Transport, Michael Wood has assured me the Government remains committed to the Melling Interchange component of the Riverlink Project.”

Hutt City Mayor Campbell Barry confirmed it was business as usual, and he was looking forward to seeing work begin on RiverLink later this year. He would be very disappointed if there was any delay due to the risk of the river flooding.

“I would be having strong words with ministers if that is the case.”

RiverLink is a partnership between Hutt City Council (urban development), Greater Wellington (flood protection), Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (Melling transport improvements) and Mana Whenua – Ngāti Toa Rangatira and Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika. It is due to be completed in 2027.


Originally published by Stuff: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/131365645/hutt-citys-riverlink-all-go-despite-claims-by-mp-that-it-faces-delay