More than 720 submissions have been accepted on the proposed Kapiti expressway, with support for both sides of the debate.
Paraparaumu businessman Mike Olsen says those who disapprove of a four-lane expressway through Kapiti need to think of the bigger picture.
"The projections are for the current roads to block up a lot more, especially with heavy traffic. We've currently got a situation where the road to Waikanae blocks up right back to Paraparaumu at times and I believe we can't keep putting or heads in the sand. We've got to look long term."
Mr Olsen, a member of the Kapiti Chamber of Commerce, said he supported the chamber's submission that the expressway should be started as soon as possible.
The route was critical to the movement of freight and people, and not proceeding would resign the community to decades of uncertainty, argument, stress and unsafe roads.
The expressway would make the distribution of goods and services throughout the lower North Island more efficient and provide incentives for businesses to base themselves in Kapiti, the chamber says. It would also encourage greater use of Kapiti Coast Airport and more visitors to the area.
New Zealand should not be afraid to tackle major infrastructure projects like they do overseas, Mr Olsen said.
"I've just been to China, and you want to see the money they're spending on motorways there.
"We've got to think of our children and grandchildren, growing up - we want them to still be living in a First World country."
Otaki resident Greg Elliott is sick of the "uncertainty" the road of national significance has brought to the region.
It is getting in the way of him setting up the country's first commercial almond farm on his five hectares near State Highway 1, just south of Otaki, he says.
"In the 10 years I've had the land, I haven't been able to do much with it.
"The life cycle of planting [almonds] is 50 years and if I'm going to lose my land in an unspecified period of time then it doesn't warrant the rest of the expense of importing the equipment to get hoeing, husking and harvesting."
Even though the Transport Agency's proposed 16-kilometre, four-lane highway from McKays Crossing to Peka Peka does not directly affect his land, Mr Elliott submitted in opposition because he felt the region needs to resist the road of national significance as a whole.
He acknowledged congestion along SH1 was a problem that needed solving but said there were more effective ways of doing so.
The western link road - a two-lane highway along a similar route, which was scrapped when National came to power - was a better option, he said.
"It has the support of the community, it was the council's plan, it was consulted on, it was consented and it's appropriate for the size of the place."
He believed the four-lane expressway would consign the region and the country to a high-carbon, energy inefficient, and debt-burdened future.
"It's going to entrench Kapiti as a car-centric place. We're facing challenges like climate change and peak oil, and this might have been the right infrastructure in the 1930s or the 50s or the 80s but we're better than that now."
Of the 725 submissions the EPA received:
- 408 (56.3 per cent) opposed the proposal either in full or in part.
- 302 (41.7 per cent) supported the proposal either in full or in part.
- 14 (1.9 per cent) were either neutral in full, in part, or had a mixed position.
- One submitter chose not to state a position.
- The majority were from Waikanae (27.3 per cent) and Paraparaumu (18.5 per cent).
- 234 wanted to be heard at the hearing.
- A pre-hearing conference will be held on Tuesday at 10.30am at the Southward Car Museum in Paraparaumu.
- The full hearing will get under way on November 12 at Southward Car Museum. A final decision will be made by April 12, 2013.
- Construction could start next year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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