By Roger Childs
By building a four lane divided expressway linking the capital to the north, we will save lives, reduce journey times, and provide a huge boost to the economic growth and productivity of the region. Gerry Brownlee
Turning the first sod
There was a large bulldozer for the big man to do the honours. Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has turned the first digger-bucket of soil to mark the start of construction on the MacKays to Peka Peka Expressway, a milestone in the Government’s work to deliver better infrastructure for a more prosperous New Zealand.
Mr Brownlee also welcomed the Transport Agency’s announcement it has chosen a consortium to enter into preferred bidder negotiations with for the Transmission Gully Public Private Partnership (PPP) highway project.
A road of national significance
The 16km MacKays to Peka Peka Expressway and the 27km Transmission Gully highway are two key components of the 110km Wellington Northern Corridor Road of National Significance, which will eventually run from Levin to Wellington Airport.
“Beginning construction on the MacKays to Peka Peka Expressway and further progress on the Transmission Gully project are significant steps forward in the Government’s long-term strategy to improve transport infrastructure nationally and locally,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Journeys on this road will be quicker and safer, with the travel time between Levin and Wellington Airport forecast to be a massive 40 minutes shorter.
“This much needed transport investment will help grow our economy by allowing freight and people to travel with more reliability and greater safety, around and between our main population centres.”
Mr Brownlee says the ‘availability’ of the PPP model being adopted for the Transmission Gully project means the PPP consortium will be paid for making a safe road open and available to traffic, and after achieving specified performance levels.
Benefits for the Kapiti District
Now that work has started on a transport issue which has been debated for over 40 years, the Kapiti area has certainty over future roading. During the period of construction there will inevitably be some disruption for local residents, however because the expressway is largely following the old sandhills motorway designation, transport problems should be minimal.
There will be many long term benefit for the wider Kapiti community.
- Through traffic will be able to get past 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 also 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.
By turning the first sod for the Expressway, Gerry Brownlee has allowed the Kapiti District to turn a corner in its development.