The petition to reinstate the Pekapeka interchange has 500 signatures, with more expected after the weekend.
Jeremy Smith reports that more than 120 people crowded into the small Te Horo country hall when NZTA representatives Kevin Reid and Emma Speight came to explain why they dropped the full interchange.
Speight said the agency’s review showed that building a full interchange estimated to cost between $22 and $29 million would not give value for money. The money could be better spent elsewhere.
But Te Horo resident Dyane Martinelli received the loudest applause when she said the single on and off ramp for the new expessway – just south of the Otaki River – would split a long established community in two. She described this as a “huge, huge insult to forgotten people.”
The original design for the Pekapeka to Otaki expressway was for the existing design with no southbound on-ramp and northbound off-ramp.
The full interchange- on and off ramps in both directions – was a promise from the National government in the run-up to the 2017 election.
Loud clapping greeted submissions from the public about the problems of not having the full interchange.
Pekapeka resident Janine Sudbury said her catering venue in Te Hapua Road sometimes handled 500 guests during the summer.They came in and out from the existing State highway.
She said the lack of a northbound exit would cause major problems trying to get to the venue once the expressway was complete in 2020.
She also expected many guests would get lost on their way home.
Petition organiser Ian Jansen said he did not believe the NZTA’s estimate figures on the cost of the interchange -$22 to $29 million – would stack up.
The meeting which went on to 9pm was attended by KCDC mayor K Gurunathan, Otaki ward councillor James Cootes and the chairs of the Otaki and the Waikanae community boards, Christine Papps and Jocelyn Prvanov.
When asked how the decision could be reversed, the NZTA’s Emma Speight said submissions could be made to the organisation’s board. She also acknowledged that the decision could be countermanded by the cabinet.
And there was more loud applause at a suggestion from the floor that the non-interchange decision was ultimately political which could be remedied by a change of government.