Kapiti expressway hearing starts

03:00, Nov 12 2012
Kapiti Expressway
The Kapiti Expressway route at Raumati, where it veers off from the existing SH1.

A hearing for consent of the contentious $630 million McKays to Peka Peka section of the Kapiti expressway has begun in Paraparaumu today.

The New Zealand Transport Agency says the road is needed to provide a safer, more efficient highway for freight and commuter traffic in and out of Wellington.

The Environmental Protection Authority is hearing NZTA's consent application for the McKays Crossing to Peka Peka expressway which has attracted 728 submissions.

The agency said the project was needed to address current and future problems on SH1 including congestion, unreliable journey times, unsafe conditions for cyclists and pedestrians, a high crash rate and a lack of resilience to accidents and earthquakes.

A total of 84 landowners have land that needs to be aquired in full or in part for the project.

Extensive earthworks include about 440,000 square metres of sand and peat to be transported away.

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In its submission, NZTA said the road was needed to enhance inter-regional and national economic growth and productivity,  and to make journey times more efficient to and through the Kapiti district, Wellington's CBD, key industrial and employment centres, ports, airports and hospitals.

While a large number of submissions are divided for and against the project, they demonstrated the need to address problems with current SH1.

Some submitters believed SH1 should be upgraded and a two-lane Western Link Rd use for local traffic instead, but the agency, in its submission, believed that proposal was flawed, and the expressway was in the right location.

The agency stressed the expressway would be closer to Kapiti's largest industrial hub and reduce freight trips on local roads.

The Dominion Post