Surprise link road to cut farm in half

SHANE COWLISHAW
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2014
Stephen Mulholland
KENT BLECHYNDEN/ Fairfax NZ

'LIFEBREAKER': Stephen Mulholland laments news his alpaca farm may be ruined by Transport Agency plan to bisect his land with a Transmission Gully link road.

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Landowners have been blindsided by letters telling them their properties could be bisected to create a link road to Transmission Gully.

A route connecting Petone with Grenada North has been proposed for years, but residents of Takapu Valley, north of Grenada North, say they are stunned to learn the NZ Transport Agency is considering an extension which could pass through their properties.

"Mate, it was just a bombshell, I was just sick to my stomach," landowner Richard Brown said yesterday.

The agency began contacting residents this week, informing them an option was being explored that would see a new road built connecting Grenada North with the proposed Transmission Gully highway near Porirua.

Stephen Mulholland, who emigrated from the United States with his partner Tamara Duran more than 10 years ago, said he learned of the proposal after his neighbour was contacted by the Transport Agency.

The road would split his property in half and destroy their alpaca farming business.

It would also run through several large historic farms in the valley and make it impossible for residents to find other similar properties so close to Wellington City.

"It's a lifebreaker, what do we do, move to Dunedin to look for a similar place?

"If this goes ahead, we're pooped. We can't run a farm with a motorway running through it."

Brown, who has lived in the area for 12 years, said Transport Agency staff came to his house on Wednesday to meet him.

They informed him that while extending State Highway 1 and the Takapu Valley option would cost about the same, the hassle of roadworks on an existing highway meant the latter was a better choice.

"You don't understand what it's like until it happens to you," he said.

Another neighbour had bought his property only six months ago and was devastated.

It seemed more sensible to widen the existing highway than destroy the lives of Takapu Valley residents, Mr Brown said.

Rod James, the Transport Agency's Wellington highways manager, said a public announcement would be made in two weeks detailing the route options, after all residents had been contacted.

About 80 property owners could be affected, with some still to be contacted before the public release.

The agency would not discuss details of the planned routes until that date.

James said the route was an important one for Wellington, with the western and eastern corridors isolated from one another.

It created a long dog-leg for many travellers and staff had been working on plans for the past year to improve this.

"This inconvenience costs travellers time, fuel and money, and inhibits Wellington's economic growth by making freight more costly, particularly to and from the Seaview industrial area."

Ohariu MP Peter Dunne said he wanted a ''full and urgent'' briefing from NZTA.

''Proposals like this ... are understandably very disruptive of people's lives and need to be handled with sensitivity, something government agencies are often not very good at.''

Mr Dunne said he wanted to know the status of the proposal, how it was linked to Transmission Gully, its projected cost, and the rights of affected property owners.

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- The Dominion Post

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