Kapiti Coast could be an economic powerhouse within the Wellington region but it needs a four-lane expressway to do it, according to the local chamber of commerce.
Chairman Mark Ternent said he knew of some large-scale businesses that were keen to set up in Kapiti but would not while the future of a four-lane expressway between McKays Crossing and Peka Peka remained uncertain.
He made the point to a board of inquiry hearing submissions on the NZ Transport Agency's consent application for the $630 million project yesterday.
"Our community has been beset and frustrated by indecision on this for 50 years now and it's time a decision was made. The road needs to be built now."
Mr Ternent said the Clean Technology Centre in Otaki had the potential to be a real economic boon for the area, but it needed a stronger link to Wellington.
An expressway would also grant emergency services a faster passage from Paraparaumu to Waikanae and potentially generate more use of the local airport, he said.
Reducing the travel time between Kapiti and Wellington could also create more business competition between both centres, driving prices down for consumers.
"There will be cost savings . . . maybe not anything that people will notice, but it will happen."
Porirua City Council roading manager Geoff Marshall said the council strongly supported the expressway because it would benefit the Porirua economy.
"The 2006 census showed 882 Kapiti Coast residents, or 4.4 per cent of the working population, worked in Porirua. I would expect that most will travel by road to work."
But palliative care nurse Bernadette Clarke said Kapiti had about twice the number of people aged over 65 than the national average, which would mean a lot of elderly drivers using the high-speed route.
"I believe this will pose a hazard to both the residents of Kapiti and all others on the expressway."
Dr Joy Anderton, who has been restoring natural wetland on her Peka Peka property for the past 13 years, said she was concerned about the expressway's environmental impact.
She doubted the transport agency's claim that any wetland loss would be mitigated by the construction of new wetlands.
"Some of what is being proposed is at best artificially constructed storm water treatment ponds with native planting at their edges."
The hearing continues today.
- The Dominion Post
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