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Locals score Judds Rd win

In a win for the Masterton community, a bipartisan community group has succeeded in moving significantly closer to keeping a key transport link operating.

The small group of volunteers, which included local and central government leaders from across the political spectrum, has persuaded KiwiRail to work toward keeping the Judds Rd level crossing open.

A statement from the group this week described the positive outcome.

“Recently the group participated in a workshop conducted by Aurecon consultants on behalf of KiwiRail and, because of the detailed economic data provided, KiwiRail has decided that due to the crossing’s current economic value of $2.6 million per annum to the region, the crossing should remain open with a signalised upgrade,” it said.

The group had previously submitted a proposal to the government for funding to keep the crossing open, estimated at around $1.4 million.

Members of the group included Wairarapa MP Mike Butterick, Labour list MP Kieran McAnulty, Masterton Ratepayers and Residents Association president Lyn Riley, Solway School principal Mark Bridges, Masterton District Council deputy mayor Rebecca Johnson, and Greater Wellington Regional Council deputy chair Adrienne Staples.

Butterick said he is pleased to see a sensible outcome for the crossing.

“It highlights how local people can drive local solutions. Going forward I will continue to meet with transport agencies. I have already been very clear that I expect real community engagement that limits impacts on people and businesses,” he said.

“I appreciate agencies have to future-proof our transport network, and in the Wairarapa they will be working to accommodate new trains, enabling faster travel, in the years ahead. We all want safe rail crossings, but there must always be a balance.”

Butterick praised the steering group members for the outcome and congratulated them for their perseverance.

McAnulty said the outcome is a positive one.

“KiwiRail has agreed to work on the Judds Rd crossing last, to give the community as much time as possible to find the necessary funding,” he said.

“It’s something we have been working on for quite some time. This is a testament to KiwiRail for working with the community, and a testament to the community’s work as well. Central government will now have to front up with the money.”

The group was chaired by John Cockburn, the owner of Breadcraft, which is located by the Judds Rd level crossing.

“I am really proud of the sustained effort and intelligent contribution from everyone on the steering group that has resulted in this positive outcome,” Cockburn said.

“It’s a great example of local cooperation, as well as having the right people around the table when it matters.”

The statement said both McAnulty and Butterick supported keeping the crossing open and facilitated access to their respective transport ministers.

The timeline for work to keep the crossing open has been extended until 2030 as new trains are not expected until 2029.

This revised timeline means several funding streams could be available, and the statement said the group is confident funding can be found to meet KiwiRail’s timeline.

“In the meantime, KiwiRail has said that they will progress the design for the crossing as though it will remain open.”


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