Wonderful community socialisation on the new highway
By Roger Childs
15,000 – 20,000 perhaps, hard to give an accurate estimate, but the Kapiti community was out in force to walk, run or ride the new expressway.
It was a fantastic experience, complete with entertainment, food and drink stalls at both ends, and worthy, local charities, Kapiti Youth Support and Mary Potter Hospice, raising plenty of money.
It was great for people to be able to wander or bike through landscapes they had never seen, and peer down from bridges they had only ever been under before.
However, the added bonus was greeting and catching up with people you knew, and some you hadn’t seen for years. The atmosphere was very positive and it was a real community day like no other.
There had been the prospect of wet weather from late morning, and the red tinged clouds over the eastern hills early in the day, were warning shepherds of possible rain.
But apart from a few spots about mid-day it remained dry and warm, and mercifully there was no wind.
As well as meeting heaps of people you knew, there were also vintage cars parading along the south-bound lane which the free buses also used to ferry people back and forth between Te Roto Drive and Te Moana Road.
The local cycling club also organised a race which followed a course south from the Kapiti Road bridge. Other people on bikes were able to ride through to Waikanae on the new highway, but could also use the new walkway/cycleway which runs alongside the entire length.
Examining the expressway features
It was interesting to see many aspects of the new highway up close:
~ the road surface which will absorb traffic noise
~ the colourfully decorated sound walls
~ the Patricia Grace salient which is attractively finished in Maori motifs
~ the amazing 1.4 million plantings which have clearly thrived in the unseasonally wet spring and summer.
A huge asset to the community
The expressway project was controversial from the outset and there were many supporters of a Western Link Road (WLR) proposal which the local council promoted.
However as all Kapiti citizens are aware, traffic congestion has steadily increased over the years, and especially along State Highway One between Paraparaumu and Waikanae. The WLR would not have adequately addressed this problem.
The need to separate the town traffic from the through traffic which the government promoted expressway will achieve, will mean less stress, journey time and pollution. The new highway will also lessen the carbon footprint, as cars, buses and trucks wanting to bypass the Kapiti district, will flow through quickly, instead of grinding slowly through sets of lights and restricted speed zones.
We live in a vehicle-dependent society and increased public transport, could not meet the needs of people and businesses who use cars and trucks. In an ideal world there would be free light rail and solar powered buses coming by on main arteries every 10 minutes or so, to take people where they want to go.
In the meantime the Mackays – Peka Peka Expressway is a great asset to the Kapiti Community, as it will reduce congestion by separating the straight-through traffic from the vehicle movements within the Kapiti community.
Then there are the added bonuses of the full length cycleway/walkway from Paekakariki to Peka Peka; improved local roads; attractive new wetlands and, a million plus plantings, which will progressively turn into large green areas of bush.