New road a double whammy for red-zoners

Road extension
Road extension

A Christchurch couple who moved out of their red-zoned house just eight months ago may have their new property bought by the Government to make way for a main road.

The Christchurch City Council has announced its preferred route for a new road at the southern end of the proposed northern arterial motorway leading to Cranford St.

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has bought 35 properties and estimates it will have to buy another 70 across the entire motorway route.

The motorway, expected to cost $200 million to $250m, runs through wetlands and farms, but also cuts across many residential properties.

Siobhan Murphy and Andrew Hayward's new semi-rural property in Winters Rd would be cut into three parts.

A large chunk of the 2-hectare property may have to be bought, and the road would run close to their house, Murphy said.

It was "heart-wrenching" leaving their Avon Loop home where they had lived for 25 years.

"We bought this house in October coming out of the red zone, so we have had enough of Government intervention," she said.

"We will negotiate with council because we don't want the road so close to our house.

''We knew something was going to happen on our property; the land was designated when we bought it.

''It wasn't a complete surprise, but the magnitude was a surprise and so was the closeness to the house.

"It goes right through our property and just misses the house. We are hoping they will change the plans."

Annie McAllister's home and market garden will also be affected by the proposed route.

"We don't want the motorway here. Who does? But that is progress, isn't it?" she said. "You just have to accept this as progress."

McAllister has lived on the 2.8ha Winters Rd plot and farmed the land for about 40 years.

"It takes most of our property. It is inevitable by the looks of it. We will accept what happens. There is no use getting upset about it," she said.

Another resident affected by the proposed route is considering legal action.

In information distributed to nearby residents, the council said it investigated five options for the extension, including using Innes, Philpotts and Marshland roads, the Hills Rd connection and a "do nothing" option.

The extension and Cranford St upgrade was chosen based on transport modelling and specialist input.

Traffic congestion would become "increasingly severe" in Main North Rd, Cranford St and Marshland Rd if the new road was not built, the council said.

About 6.2ha would be needed for the new road and footpaths, but because the preferred route cut through the Cranford Basin, a natural ponding area, more land would be required for water-quality treatment and stormwater facilities.

The plan would also see Cranford St widened to four lanes between its junction with the extension and Innes Rd.

The NZTA expected to begin construction on the northern arterial in 2016. It would feature a four-lane, median-separated highway leading off the existing northern motorway, just south of the Waimakariri River, to connect with Queen Elizabeth II Drive near Winters Rd.

The new motorway would follow a route that had been designated for more than 35 years, running past the proposed 2200-home Highfield subdivision that was approved last month.

The council is now seeking public feedback on the proposed motorway extension and will hold two information sessions, on June 18 and 25 between 3.30pm and 6pm, at the Malvern Scout Group Den in Innes Rd.

NZTA state highway manager Colin Knaggs said the agency had bought about 50 per cent of the land needed for the northern arterial motorway.

That excluded land needed for the extension through the Cranford Basin and widening of Cranford St, as that project was the responsibility of the council.

Knaggs said the NZTA lodged the route designation for the new four-lane northern artieral with the council last year.

"The council is expected to lodge its own consents to connect the northern arterial to Cranford St later this year, enabling consenting for both sections - the state highway and local road - to be notified and heard at the same time."

In the meantime, the NZTA was progressing with detailed design work and the purchase of required land, he said.

Construction is scheduled to being in 2016-17.

Shirley-Papanui councillor and Christchurch Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button said there was a lot of support for the project, especially from residents who lived along the congested main roads.

"Generally there's a sense of huge relief in the community that something is going to happen and that the traffic that's clogging up the Main North Rd and Papanui Rd down to Bealey Ave will be relieved ... especially at Belfast and Belfast School [which] are just crying out for the northern arterial to be completed."

The northern arterial route:

- The new route will cost between $200m to $250m to build.
- Construction is not lilkely to start before 2016.
- The NZTA already owns 35 properties and plans to buy 70 more on the route.

The Press