Lame excuses for the Kāpiti expressway

Dear Ed,

Adding to the series of lame excuses for the Kāpiti expressway, the minister states that it is needed for safety reasons (KN 23/02). Yet the current SH1 is not regarded as unsafe, being rated 3 out of 5 by NZTA in recent safety ratings. Nor is it overcapacity, with NZTA’s traffic modelling showing the Kāpiti section running at approx 40 percent of capacity. If the minister has real concerns about road safety he should be prioritising Transmission Gully, as Centennial Highway has a much lower safety rating.

Furthermore, focusing only on road crashes is misleading. In NZ it is estimated approximately 500 people die each year as a result of traffic pollution. This is higher than the road toll. Perhaps it will be 510 people per year who die if this road is built through Kāpiti. It will have a major impact on houses alongside, with approximately 800 homes subjected to the heath risks of air traffic pollution, which include respiratory illness and cancer. The money saved in road crashes will be more than outweighed by the avoidable hospitalisations of those forced to live alongside the expressway, which, at a height of 10m, will preclude filtering of toxins by tree plantings. Reducing road crashes is admirable, but the minister also has a legislative duty to protect public health.

Marie O’Sullivan