By Peter Curling
Yes, THRAC and the associated County & Rahui Roads Group are still pursuing a better expressway route option for Te Horo and Ōtaki.
You should have received and will likely have read the latest NZTA pronouncements and propaganda released in January and giving more but still incomplete detail of where they wish to construct their road. Our commiserations go to those newly affected.
The major aspects are of course adjustment at Marycrest and the Rahui Road overbridge, this latter involving the destruction of the grand old ‘Arlington’ property. Whilst both aspects are perhaps preferable in terms of the wider picture of minimising the devastation to be wrought upon Te Horo and Ōtaki, they must be considered in the context of what could be. The Power Pylons route still offers least destruction and disruption, greater health, safety and employment benefits and would be cheaper – the Rahui Road overbridge alone adding another $14 million dollars to the previously estimated $70 million in savings if that route be emplyed.
What is offered in the January release from NZTA is not ‘good’ for Te Horo and Ōtaki, just marginally less bad for some (worse for others of course!).
We are told that NZTA will ‘consult’ please do not confuse this term as used by NZTA with the dictionary definition of the word again in June-July concerning the mitigations that NZTA is prepared to offer our community “where possible”. Who determines what and where mitigation is “possible”? NZTA of course. In THRAC’s opinion your ‘voice’ is requested for window dressing purposes only and enables NZTA to claim that the project has been routed and designed in ‘consultation’ with the community. By manipulating submissions numbers, they even have the gall to claim “public support” or “public preference”. THRAC/CRRG will endeavour to highlight relevant issues when this next ‘consultation’ phase commences but we will continue to urge people entering submissions to demand re-routing.
In the meantime and in case you are not aware, NZTA propose seeking resource consent, almost definitely before a Board of Inquiry, early next year and the currently projected construction commencement date is 2016 with a four year construction period envisaged. This delay is interesting as it takes commencement beyond the next general election. Also and possibly as a consequence of our urging, the Ōtaki Community Board is seeking discussion with NZTA concerning ‘chokepoint’ alleviation measures. IF the options available are implemented, the lack of need for a four lane expressway IN ADDITION TO the current State Highway MAY finally be realised.
An intriguing development is that the person ‘fronting’ this part of the project for NZTA has again been replaced. The initial (2009-2010) frontman Rob Whight ‘took another job’ (with an NZTA consultant company) and, as predicted by a THRAC member (money should change hands!), his replacement Andrew Quinn, is after just one year, now ‘focusing upon the Mackays Crossing to Peka Peka section’. Are ‘we’ making life too hot? Who knows but we certainly hope so!
THRAC/CRRG have virtually got to the stage where NZTA will not discuss or seek further to justify its actions and transgressions. Having agreed to hold a meeting between THRAC/CRRG and NZTA engineers, NZTA have now breached that agreement beyond an indicated willingness to allow us to outline the flaws and dangers within their preferred route ONLY. In the absence of assurances that our input will not be discarded out of hand and claims then made that the mitigations (“where possible”) have been established in conjunction with THRAC/CRRG (or the like claim), we have refused to be a party to such artificial collaboration. If appropriate assurances should be forthcoming, then we will proceed with the meeting.
No meaningful communication was ever received from Steven Joyce concerning the April 2011 suggested deferral of the project (because of the country’s financial position and Christchurch considerations) although new Transport Minister, Gerry Brownlee has responded this month and been answered. This dialogue at least, is ongoing.
(for your Te Horo Road Action Committee)no