Kapiti Roading debate

 Time to fold the anti-expressway tent?

Following the latest news on the Kapiti Expressway, we have asked a well-known pro-Expressway writer to outline the case for this ‘Road of National Significance’ in the light of recent events.
Roger Childs, a highly regarded educator and public figure on the Kapiti Coast, presents his side of the argument:

‘Last-ditch attempts a waste of time and money’

By Roger Childs

The anti-Expressway groups have been very vocal and active in their opposition to the planned road of national significance through the Kapiti Coast. They have exercised their democratic right to protest, but isn’t it time to accept the inevitable? The last ditch attempts by Save Kapiti and the Alliance for Sustainable Kapiti (ASK) to take their case to the High Court is, in my view, a waste of time and money. They are not going to win.

Points of law?

A “point of law” for both groups rests on comparing the benefits of the Expressway with those of the old Western Link Road (WLR) proposal. This is certainly a valid point of law. More on this shortly.

However, ASK has also raised the issue of significant changes to land use affecting “amenity values”. Obviously any change to transport systems, whether it be electrifying the railway through to Waikanae, constructing a WLR or an Expressway, will impact on people’s lifestyles and how they perceive their community. But this is hardly a point of law, because individual views on how change will impact on people’s values are highly subjective.

Weighing up the Western Link Road

The perceived advantages of the WLR concept rest on claims which are difficult to substantiate.  Its proponents argue that:

  • most local traffic would use it going north and south
  • more jobs would be created
  • there would be less congestion, because through traffic would continue to use SH1.

There is no question that the WLR would cost less and the much needed second bridge over the Waikanae River would be built. However, there is no way it would create more jobs than the larger and longer Expressway project and the latter will put a four-lane bridge, rather than two lanes, over the river. This extra capacity would be crucial in the event of a major emergency.

People in Waikanae and Paraparaumu who live east of the railway line would probably not use a WLR when the existing SH1 or other local roads would be more convenient. Also heavy vehicles might well find the WLR option more attractive travelling north and south.

Separating town from through traffic to relieve congestion

The congestion on SH1, Rimu Road, Kapiti Road and Te Moana Road, at peak times daily, is a fact of life. The problems are compounded by through traffic having to grind across three sets of lights and dawdle on long 50-80 kph sections of road. A WLR would not deal with these problems, whereas an Expressway will let the through traffic quickly bypass the Kapiti district and not get tangled up with the town traffic.

The arguing over the use of the Sandhills Motorway designation has gone on for over 40 years. It’s time to move on and make the most of a more efficient road transport system in and through the Kapiti Coast.







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Thanks for the pragmatic analysis Roger and here are a couple of practical additions:

1. The “State” will pay for the entire Expressway rather than Kapiti ratepayers subsidising the cost of a Western Link Road-type alternative (on which by the way Kapiti ratepayers are still owed $5 million on the KCDC’s investment according to an OIA response).

2. What is the point of building a safer and faster Transmission Gully bypass route if traffic would still be clogged up trying to get through Kapiti on unsafe and slow roads at peak times.