Four lanes for Kapiti highway surprises lobbyists
Opponents of the Kapiti expressway have told a board of inquiry about their surprise at the "abrupt policy change" to alter the route from two lanes to four.
The board began hearing submissions yesterday to New Zealand Transport Agency's consent application to build the $630 million expressway between McKays Crossing and Peka Peka.
Raumati South Residents' Association, representing about 230 people, said it had worked for many years with Kapiti Coast District Council on planning a two-lane Western Link road along roughly the same route, which would have promoted "better connectivity between coastal communities" without splitting them in two. "Like other Kapiti groups, we were very surprised by the abrupt policy change of NZTA to a [four-lane] expressway severing communities."
The group said it was concerned about the effect of construction on traffic flows and the effect of the project on three wetlands.
The expressway requires a major interchange to be built at the entrance to Poplar Ave, the only access route to Raumati South.
"This means that, for three years, the entrance to Raumati South community will be a construction site marked by a changing temporary intersection.
"Without careful management, construction has the potential to practically cut this sole access route and see frustrated residents forced to circle north and try and enter the motorway at Raumati Rd or even Paraparaumu," the group said.
Kapiti Coast Airport Holdings strongly supported the expressway but had reservations about access to and from State Highway 1 in Paraparaumu being adequate to serve predicted growth in the area.
Director Sir Noel Robinson said he believed an increased rate of growth around the airport and an adjoining business park would require "a complete rethink by NZTA of its forecasted growth for the airport and the district which has been unrealistically discounted".
Kapiti Coast District Council supported the expressway project, subject to conditions including a contribution to Kapiti Rd traffic signals at its intersection with Arawhata Rd and Milne Dr/ Te Roto Dr and the four-laning of Kapiti Rd between the expressway interchange and Milne Dr.
It also wanted traffic lights at Waikanae's Te Moana Rd interchange, rather than roundabouts.
The council called for "soft" landscape work. "Once construction is complete, it is the local community that is left to view it on a daily basis."
Greater Wellington regional council expressed concerns about the effect of the project on waterways and mitigation measures.
"If consent for mitigation works is not applied for or granted until well after work is started on the expressway, mitigation may lag behind the work creating the effect."
NZTA stressed the project was an integral part of the Wellington Northern Corridor Road of National Significance, designed to tie with the now-consented Transmisson Gully motorway.
The project was needed to address congestion, poor north-south connectivity, unreliable journey times, unsafe conditions for cyclists, a high crash rate and lack of resilience to accidents and earthquakes, the agency said.
It had avoided running the route through a corner of a Takamore urupa (burial ground) but Takamore Trust and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust remained opposed to the expressway running through the Maori cultural heritage precinct.
The application has attracted 728 submissions.
The hearing continues at Southwards complex today with submissions being presented by: The New Zealand Historic Places Trust Takamore Trust Waikanae On One Save Kapiti Incorporated Dr Christopher & Monica Dearden
Related story: Kapiti Expressway: The story so far
The Dominion Post