Expressway critics turn out in force

Anyone who thought the proposed Expressway through Kāpiti battle was over would need to think again after 400 residents packed a hall at El Rancho in Waikanae.

Representatives of the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) faced a crowd intent on giving them the clear message this Expressway is not the popular choice.

The public meeting was organised by the road lobby group Alliance for a Sustainable Kāpiti (ASK) and fronted by a panel comprising MPs Darren Hughes and Gareth Hughes, Greater Wellington Regional Councillors Nigel Wilson, Paul Bruce and Judith Aitken. A key speaker was urban planner James Lunday who had completed most of the design work for the originally planned two-lane Western Link Road. The meeting was chaired by Kāpiti Mayor Jenny Rowan.

The panelists were united in their view that the NZTA Expressway was not in the best interests of Kāpiti and figures presented to justify it did not stand up to scrutiny.

There was also considerable talk of direct action against the NZTA plans including threats to block bulldozers should it come to that. NZTA regional director Jenny Chetwyn replied she sincerely hoped no-one would do that.

ASK spokesman, Nick Fisher, said “NZTA were unable to define any economic benefits for local residents, despite economic benefit being one of their main promotional planks.

“They also revealed that very little analysis of the benefits and costs of the route have been done, but were adamant that whatever the outcome of that analysis, the route would not change. However Darren Hughes described how Labour would rescind this decision to bypass Kāpiti through the WLR designation, emphasising that it was clearly a political and not a technical decision.”