Protesters: Spend expressway money on Canterbury
TRANSPORT AND METRO REPORTER
The Wizard of Christchurch was among protesters on the steps of parliament today who believe money earmarked for the Kapiti expressway should be spent on the Christchurch rebuild.
A group known as SaveKapiti presented the Wizard with a giant $450 million cheque, representing the difference between the cost of a local Kapiti road plan and the Government's proposed four-lane expressway.
The Wizard stepped in after Gerry Brownlee, who is the minister in charge of both Transport and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, refused to accept it.
He addressed the 60-strong crowd along with Labour transport spokesman Phil Twyford and Green Party transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter.
Twyford said the proposed Otaki to Levin expressway, which the New Zealand Transport Agency scrapped last week in favour of several upgrades to State Highway 1 and SH57, saving $300 million, was the beginning of a government back-track on its promise to pour money into seven roads of national significance.
''Increasingly, people are realising these roads don't deliver value for money.''
Ms Genter urged the crowd to speak their minds if they felt big-ticket roading projects were a waste of money.
SaveKapiti spokeswoman Bianca Begovich said the Government had its priorities wrong.
The money for an ''unnecessary'' road project in Kapiti would be much better spent on Christchurch where it is desperately needed, she said.
''The expressway is not about solving traffic congestion. Kapiti already had a local road solution that provided connectivity, removed congestion off State Highway 1 and gave an alternate route through the Kapiti district, all at a third of the price.''
''This is a blatant waste of money. There are also serious environmental, social and economic problems with the Government's proposal.''
''Their $14 billion investment in seven similar motorway projects throughout the country shows that despite what they say, Christchurch is not their number one priority.''
The Environmental Protection Agency has recently made a call for submissions on the Kapiti expressway which will be reviewed by an independent Board of Inquiry.
- The Dominion Post
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