Motorway Madness Hits Kapiti

Expressway hysteria — a balancing view

Alan Tristram introduces a special article by Mandy Hager

Amid the general jubilation, National backslapping and huge PR spending in our local papers about the Kapiti Expressway. I think it’s time for an alternative view to be aired.

So here is columnist Mandy Hager, giving us her views on all this kerfuffle —

A Yellow Brick Road to Nowhere 

Mandy Hager

By Mandy Hager

So tomorrow sees the grand unveiling of the Kapiti Expressway, with all the bangs and whistles. Locals are invited to travel along it, as if it was as magical as the yellow brick road. It looks as if all the money spent on positive spin is having an effect.

Monument to fossil fuels

But as you gaze over the kilometres of grey asphalt and marvel at its construction, think about what has been lost to this monument for fossil fuels.

Once there were lush gardens, lovingly tended by people who thought that they had found their ‘forever’ home.

Once there were houses that those same people put their life savings into, along with the usual sweat of creating the space they love. There were ancient flight corridors for native birds. There were natural wetlands for waterbirds. There was a picturesque beach community that had retained the feel of old New Zealand. All gone.

For those of us close to the road, who were deemed lucky at the time for not having to sell up our homes, we have undergone years of dust, vibration and machinery noise. I have seen people slowly wilt and fade as this behemoth snaked towards them, some critically ill now as the result of years of stress.

Now, if I stand at my kitchen window I can see the road, generously lit by large overhead street lamps.

The property we bought as a sanctuary is now open to the public gaze. And, worse, our garden suffers, trees dying and destabilised because the natural flow of water has been interfered with.

I know for most of you, especially those who commute, you will see the expressway as a boon. But whether it actually saves you time is still a very moot point. And at what greater cost?

Families in some of our poorest neighbourhoods now live next to an emissions-spewing beast with proven health risks.

‘Old world, suicidal, thinking’

But, even worse, at the very time when we should be re-examining our fossil-fuel culture in the light of climate change, our government spent billions of dollars enabling old world, suicidal thinking.

Think what that money could have achieved if directed towards sustainable public transport. Think what it might have achieved for our ever-growing homeless and poverty-stricken population.

We have to think beyond our short-term needs — a minute or two shaved off a commute — if we are ever to survive the climate catastrophes that will engulf us. It seems ironic that as I write this Christchurch is once more paying the price for nature’s push-back against human intervention.

Prepare yourselves for more of these catastrophes; this is the new reality from this time forth, and a bloody great motorway is not, and never was, the answer.

I appreciate that not everyone gains from the expressway, and I read and respect your comments. However let’s not forget that the expressway has been built, for the most part, on land designated for a road for generations. Some of this land was covered in gorse and blackberry, sitting idle and deteriorating as nothing happened. I am pleased there is now a road, and with some useful walkways/cycleways in the bargain. (I don’t ride a horse but they apparently benefit also). And some planting which will in time grow to something attractive and I guess absorb some/all of the carbon the road creates. (And that traffic would be going through the district in any case).

… and I’m intrigued by the photo used at the header of this article. This isn’t the Kapiti expressway, it’s a 3 lane motorway going in a straight line. What relevance is this to a balanced article … surely not a local example of “alternative truth” spoken of in recent times ?

Thanks Gordon

Sometimes we slip up with photos. From memory this one came originally from NZTA.

So it’s probably diagrammatic. Anyway, we can correct.

And that’s not alternative truth.Best wishes,

Alan Tristram

Wow,

First a gloomy and a rather cloudy item from a very talented writer. Plus three more missives of doom. However if I could just highlight some quick silver linings from the clouds. Just one or two little ” Star Fishes” that were saved, as in the Starfish anecdote.

I do agree with all the writers’ general sentiments on roading versus public transport as I ‘m sure do a large number of New Zealanders.

The past two months I have been commuting by train to town. When I have early lectures I do take my car to the Paraparaumu Station and at 7.10am have to park down by Paula’s. When I go in at 11am all the parks are completely full. It appears there is a large increase in folks getting off the road and their number appears to be growing.

In Welly there is a sizable number of folks riding bikes, in perhaps one of the most dangerous cities to do so. Also quite a number of young and old are on scooters too, just like the one I had when I was about 7 back in the early 1950’s! Plus one young lady studying Maths with me brings her skate board into lectures! I guess it is hard to chain up a skate board!

The Z energy station I pass in town is often charging fully battery powered cars.

Small changes are happening and, in my view they do matter!

Sorry, road use and abundance of easy to access fossil fuels wont cease in my lifetime! As a old campaigner though, I can assure the folks that have responded, that negativity will very seldom win the day. No one appears to listen!

I do have empathy with the writers who are so upset for what has happened. However in my travels plus in my employment time, working out of NZ. I did so appreciate when I returned home just how blessed I was to be a Kiwi and live in this country. We are really in a slice of heaven. Most of us, as we get older, have also lived long enough to know that attachment, whether it be to people or things, is just so very very impermanent! No need to tell you folks that. Plus it just leads to unhappiness and fair bit of gloom and clouds that don’t appear to have silver linings.

Having just said that I must confess I have recently got rather got attached to the following experience …… on the Welly public transport……99% of folks, in my recent observations, all say a loud “thankyou’ to the bus driver when they depart the bus. Just so so nice! Plus it is my current favorite silver lining.

Tony Fraei

The expresway saddens me. The cost is $630 million or $35 m per kilometer. This is wasteful madness. The money should have been spent on public transport such as electrifying the rail line to Otaki and starting on light rail in Wellington. And there’s worse to come as Simon Bridges, Minister of Transport muses on more expressways up North.

Oh so true sadly, my life has never been the same from the time it was announced and years of stress, dust, vibration, noise, my house and garden ruined, my haven no more. To add insult to injury the value of my property has dropped considerably, if in fact it is even saleable at all! My dreams and plans have been destroyed but even worse the beautiful healthy Kapiti Coast is no more and the planet will suffer because of it. A win for humankind, I think not!

I agree with everything Mandy says.

This flash motorway will become a major liability one day when salt water incursion invades the soil chemistry. It will cost millions to maintain. Well done Turver and fellow idiots; you’ve got what you wanted: a disconnected community and the loss of our special atmosphere. There’s not an ounce of nature in your souls.

Never mind the earthquake risk either, or the breakdowns many residents have had under this duplicitous undertaking.

Travellers on holiday will appreciate it, but the same result would have been achieved for them with simple modifications to the existing SH1 route and the Western Link Road that would have made Kapiti an even better place to live.