April decision after 'David and Goliath' expressway hearings

KAY BLUNDELL
Last updated 07:01 25/01/2013

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Hearings on the contentious Kapiti Expressway, described as a "David and Goliath struggle" by opponents, have wound up, with a final decision on the $630 million project due by mid-April.

A board of inquiry started hearing evidence and submissions on November 12. A draft decision is due by March 1.

The board of inquiry process could fast-track development of the four-lane expressway running through the district from McKays Crossing to Peka Peka, possibly allowing construction to start late this year.

About 740 submissions were received opposing and supporting the $630 million project, and the board heard more than 200 witnesses and submissions.

In closing statements this week, affected residents Chris and Monica Dearden said the past three years had been a David and Goliath struggle.

"Our objective has been to stop the implementation of a hugely wrong solution to a relatively minor traffic flow problem for which there has already been an agreed, locally supported, cheaper answer in the Western Link Road."

Construction of a two-lane link road, along roughly the same route as the expressway, was about to start when the Government stepped in and announced the expressway.

Mr Dearden said the expressway had no economic rationale, no practicality in traffic numbers, was not geographically or sustainably justified and flouted cultural sensibility.

"If you allow this white elephant expressway to go ahead, then, beyond the three years of anxiety and heartache we have endured, we expect the rest of our lives will be a time of suffering noise, light and pollution damage, as well as vibration.

"So will all the 1400 households which live within 200 metres of the expressway. Our properties will lose their value and be unsaleable," he said.

Takamore Trustees and Maori landowners have opposed the route north of Waikanae.

An NZTA representative told the Board there was no alternative option available that would address the transport network deficiencies besetting the Kapiti and Wellington communities in a way that would avoid cultural impacts occurring in the Takamore wahitapu area.

''The structural deficiencies in the state highway and local road network through Kapiti must be resolved and delay in doing so must avoided. The expressway is the right solution to those deficiencies and no lesser road will do,'' he said.

Kapiti Coast District Council's submission wanted development near intersections to be restricted.

Contact Kay Blundell
Kapiti reporter
Email: kay.blundell@dompost.co.nz

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