Western Link Expressway

Turvers Vision  –

A Western Link Expressway to Save Kapiti

By Alan Tristram
20th September 2009

The Government’s Expressway proposals have inflamed locals as never before and Kapiti Independent News thinks it’s vital to present clear arguments on all fronts.

So we’ve asked Chris Turver to give us his opinion.

Chris has huge experience locally — serving for many years as our Regional Councillor and standing for the Mayoralty in the last election.

Here is his contribution:

Chris Turver Writes

Chris Turver ImageOnce-upon-a-time there was a man in the old National Roads Board who planned a new arterial road through Kapiti which would take all long distance traffic through the district quickly and safely along a loop from Raumati South to Peka Peka.

Its secondary benefit would be to free up existing roads in Kapiti for local people.

That man in the NRB (later called Transit NZ and now the NZ Transport Agency) was acting on instruction 40 years ago to plan ahead for dealing with growing traffic. His design was called the Sandhills Motorway.

The motorway route was formally designated and to this day has been kept largely clear of development, although the designation has been reduced in scale by the local council to meet its own smaller-scale planning goals.

Forty years on and still waiting

Forty years later, nothing has actually happened, and that plan to drive a four-lane expressway through Kapiti to reduce growing congestion had been sitting in a pigeon hole inherited by the NZ Transport Agency.

With a change in government came a new determination to improve the nation’s roading system, as a means of increasing productivity, with free-flowing major arterial highways.

The Levin-Wellington route is the first of seven roads of ‘national importance’ and the old Sandhills Motorway – now called the Western Link Road – is one of three Options for public consultation.

Option 1 involves full four-laning (with some deviations) of the existing SH1 and Option 2 a hybrid mix of part Western Link Road and part SH1.

The trouble with Kapiti is that it’s such a great place to live that we naturally see development issues from a local perspective – compared with a government that is determined to get a free-flowing roading solution in the national interest.

Crunch time had to come.

KCDC decisions over recent years to progressively reduce the size of an originally-planned four-lane Western Link Road, with a 100 kph speed limit, to two lanes with speed limits as low as 50 kph, meant it could never be an expressway.

Small wonder then that a new government with fresh ideas about freeing up roads in the ‘national interest’ has no interest in a road designed in the “local interest”.

It clearly, and deliberately, put up the two initial Options, presumably well aware that Option 1 would lead to opposition from hundreds of affected home and business owners in Waikanae, Otaihanga, and Paraparaumu.

And Option 2 would still mean devastation between Otaihanga and Paraparaumu.gbvgg

The government would also have been well aware that those Options would spur a demand for a return to the Sandhills Motorway route.

KCDC ‘Did Not Know’

The most worrying feature of all this is that the KCDC publicly admitted it did not know for eight months what was going on at the NZTA and the question has to be asked about both its political acumen and its judgment in pushing ahead with downscaling the Western Link Road.

In politics there should no surprises — if relationships with key stakeholders are sound!.

So Option 3 – the full four-laning of the Western Link Road to expressway standards – is back on the table and the little man at the old National Roads Board, if he were still alive, would have a distinct sense of déjà vu, as many of us do.

Option Three
To me Option 3 has always been an obvious choice because it will keep all long distance traffic (including those heavy trucks) out of Kapiti completely; the existing SH1 becomes a useful secondary road for Kapiti people to feed into the local roading network;and noise and pollution are reduced

A key factor is getting a second bridge built over the Waikanae River as quickly as possible.

My information suggests that if the Western Link Road expressway was selected it might take nine years to complete — compared with 10-11years for four-laning SH1 because of quite extensive reconstruction work through existing built-up areas.

As a starting point, a deal should be negotiated now with the NZTA for an interim bridge over the Waikanae River.

It should be fast-tracked and built within two years, and should be capable of four-laning when the Western Link Expressway starts.

When the second round of consultation documents starts arriving at homes and businesses around Kapiti at the end of September, please make sure you ‘vote’ on the Options by sending in your own submission.