One day it will all be worth it

KAY BLUNDELL
Last updated 05:00 17/05/2014
Raumati South resident Samantha Marshall-Sutherland
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
BAD VIBRATIONS: Raumati South resident Samantha Marshall-Sutherland says living beside the expressway roadworks is like having constant earthquakes.

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Their homes weren't taken for the Kapiti Expressway, and they're happy to be staying put. But their lives have still been turned upside down. Kay Blundell reports on what it's like for Raumati South residents living right next door to a massive roadbuilding project. 

"Sometimes it feels like we're having constant earthquakes," says Samantha Marshall-Sutherland of the noise and vibration stemming from the other side of her garden fence.

She lives at the southern end of Leinster Ave, in Raumati South, where huge earthmoving trucks work from 7am to 5pm building the southern entrance to the Kapiti expressway. "During the day I try and stay away."

Truck and trailer units use the end of her street to access work north of her property. She hopes a bund will be built and planted along her fence line to reduce the noise, which varies according what part of the site they are working on.

The end of Leinster Ave used to have access to State Highway 1 but that was closed in February. She is still battling to have her rubbish bags removed, as the collectors do not go past a road sign stating that the end of the street is closed to traffic.

When contractors started removing houses along SH1 north of Leinster Ave, the noise and vibration was even worse, she said - a claim backed by neighbour Amber Thomas, the mother of two young children, who said: "When they were moving the houses the noise level was about 100 per cent. Now it is only about 30-40 per cent. You just get used to it, like a freight train in the middle of the night."

Worst of all was the new junction with SH1 at Poplar Ave, Marshall-Sutherland said. Large concrete fence panels surround the corners of the site, making visibility difficult, especially turning left and merging with highway traffic, she said.

"I am just waiting for someone to smash into the concrete . . . It is hell . . . an accident waiting to happen."

When she and her family first found out about the expressway, they considered selling and moving, but decided against it. "We really like it here. We thought if we grit our teeth through this, we will get back the serenity we want. At first I thought I could handle it . . . now it is beginning to be a real drag."

Andrea Sorger, principal of Te Ra Waldorf School in Poplar Ave, said staff found accessing the street from the highway quite dangerous. Although there had been some improvements, she believed visibility was still poor and would like to see the concrete fence taken down.

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Matt Winders lives on an elevated section on the corner of Poplar Ave and Leinster Ave and said the noise was worst first thing in the morning when the hills behind the highway acted like a "big speaker".

Overall, he was impressed with the work done so far, but said his house vibrated.

The worst aspect was not being notified about changes, he said.

On Monday, trucks started dumping hard fill at the site, using a haul road opposite Winders' house. He contacted the council and the contractors, and the route was changed.

"They came to our door, were understanding of our position. The noise levels are one of our biggest problems . . . it wakes us up in the morning. If I had major problems, I would have moved a while ago but . . . we like this area. Once it is over, it will be good . . . it's such a beautiful place."

The project is not expected to be completed until early in 2017.

GRANDDAUGHTER SLEEPS THROUGH IT

Denise Harrison lives alongside the roadworks site in Leinster Ave, but says the noise does not affect her babysitting her granddaughter, who sleeps on the couch during the day.

And she enjoys the friendliness of the workers. "The workmen are lovely, like your friends . . . they involve us, are very informative, it is quite nice seeing something going on. In the end, it is going to be for the better."

- The Dominion Post

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