When my wife and I came to live in Raumati in the late 1960s, we wondered why there was an elevated strip of land through the area which had no housing.
It was explained to us, that this was designated for a future sandhills motorway. 45 years on, the motorway, or expressway, is about to become reality.
The recent Board of Inquiry has approved a resource consent, and construction could start before the end of the year.
Not a moment too soon.
However there has been a lot of controversy over the expressway proposal and the local papers have been saturated with arguments for and against ever since it was deemed to be a road of national significance by the Key led National Government.
Got be good for us and others
It is a long held principle of town planning that where roading is concerned, separate the through traffic from the town traffic. If your community is located on a major transport artery, try and facilitate easy and rapid movement through the area for vehicles that want to go somewhere else.
For the Kāpiti Coast, getting the cars and trucks that want to go south to Wellington, Porirua and the Hutt, or north to Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay, Taupo and beyond, quickly through the area without interfering with local traffic, makes perfect sense.
But does it?
Objections your honour!
Opposition to the expressway has centred mainly on five key arguments which I’ll examine in turn.
- It’s not needed Figures about cost-benefit have been bandied around to justify not proceeding. However does anyone think that the present congestion, pollution, cost and waste of time on State Highway One, especially during commuter hours and holiday weekends, is not a problem?
- The Western Link Road would be much better. When this was being promoted, propaganda sketches showed lots of greenery with mothers pushing strollers, people out for a walk, cyclists drifting by and a few cars on the roads. Would it really have been like this? Could heavy vehicles have been prevented from using it and wouldn’t this faster route have been used by most through traffic? Certainly the much needed second Waikanae River bridge would have been built, but how much local traffic would have found it convenient to use?
- It will divide communities. Major transport links can create divisions within communities as State Highway One and the railway line do now. However provision for local roads over or under the expressway will make access to the other side very easy.
- The noise and pollution of big trucks in particular will be a major problem. It’s a big problem now with these juggernauts grinding slowly through 50kph areas and three sets of lights. On the expressway they will whizz through the area faster with less disturbance and fumes.
- A lot of people will lose their homes. This is always an unfortunate reality when major transport routes are built through well established areas. I wouldn’t like it if it was my place. However this problem could have been lessened if the original route through Raumati South had been adhered to. It seems that the concerns of two schools in the area and use of an insignificant part of Queen Elizabeth Park carried more weight than the interests of local residents soon to be displaced. The heaviest traffic times would have actually been before and after school hours.
You’ve got some valid points there judge!
The reality is that it’s going to happen. In my view the pros far outweigh the cons.
- Through traffic will be able to get through the Kapiti Coast quickly.
- Local traffic will move more efficiently and the much reduced use of the existing SH1, especially from Paraparaumu to Waikanae, will be a bonus.
- The separation of through traffic and local traffic is likely to see fewer accidents and casualties.
- The CBDs of Paraparaumu, Waikanae and eventually Otaki, will be far less congested and more accessible to locals and visitors.
- The expressway will benefit the development of the airport and its associated commercial growth.
- All local residents will also be able to travel more easily north and south.
- In a civil defence emergency the expressway will be an efficient and much needed lifeline.
The new MacKays to Peka Peka Expressway will dovetail neatly with the Transmission Gully Motorway to the south. Tens of millions of dollars have been wasted over the decades on debating and investigating the relative merits of roading options in the Kapiti area. It’s time to move on and accept the reality that we need these long overdue roading improvements.
I rest my case.
(Editor’s note: The viewpoints expressed in our columnists’ writings do not necessarily reflect the Editor’s point of view)