Locals endorse expressway as Peka Peka to Ōtaki stretch starts

Kāpiti residents see the benefits of an expressway, but the New Zealand Transport Agency says it is aware of their concerns about the project.

Te Horo locals turned out in force to hear how the Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressway will be rolled out.

General details, likely environmental and cultural impacts, and health and safety measures were presented at the meeting last week.

The $330 million, four-lane expressway being built by Fletcher Construction will bypass Ōtaki, .

Project manager Andy Goldie said the event reflected the “huge” level of consultation by the agency.

“Today’s really about construction commencing and giving the community a bit of an idea about how it’s going to be built and what they can expect to see over the next couple of years.”

Mr Goldie said questions were still being asked about construction noise and connectivity on and off the expressway.

The same questions had been dealt with in consultations for several years.

Nearby resident Stephanie McAlister (22) was supportive of the project.

“I think it’s a great development for the community, it’ll shift the road from the main town centre and therefore you’ll get a whole lot more of the community feel back.”

Another local man who did not want to be named says while he first felt unsure about it, he thinks it would grow Ōtaki, Te Horo and Waikanae.

“I can definitely see it happening, because of the notorious traffic as we go through State Highway 1 today.”

Waikanae resident Mike Strang said it was well overdue.

“Most people will still shop there and go to cafes as that’s why you go, but for those trucks and cars going to the ferry or Wellington, they will save time.

“We don’t want an Auckland problem. Better to put the infrastructure in now to future proof.”

Locals listen as project manager Andy Goldie introduces the first of several presentations of the different facets of the expressway.

Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce chair Heather Hutchings urged the new Labour-led government to support the project.

During the election campaign Labour said it would review the Ōtaki to Levin stage.

“There​ ​is​ ​a​ ​new​ ​energy​ ​and​ ​sense​ ​of​ ​urgency​ ​in​ ​Kāpiti​ ​since​ ​the​ ​first​ ​stage​ ​of​ ​the expressway​ ​opened​ ​earlier​ ​this​ ​year.​ ​Businesses​ ​are​ ​making​ ​the​ ​most​ ​of​ ​our unprecedented​ ​opportunities,​ ​growing​ ​and​ ​investing​ ​more.

“The​ ​entire​ ​district​ ​understands how​ ​vital​ ​this​ ​crucial​ ​piece​ ​of​ ​infrastructure from Paraparaumu, Ōtaki to Levin is​ ​to​ ​the​ ​local​ ​economy.”

Ōtaki Community Board Chair Christine Papps said while there will be three years of disruption, she believes the ultimate outcome will be positive for Ōtaki, Kāpiti and Horowhenua.

“Access to and from Wellington will be improved and there will be positive short term economic benefits.

“What we do need to ensure is that the long term effects for residents and for the local economy are positive.”

Ms Papps said there will be work done at the local level to achieve benefits for residents.

The project is due to start construction next month.

Mr Goldie said one of the main benefits of the expressway would be safety.

“Currently there’s a lot of local roads that cross the railway and enter onto the State Highway directly. Really dangerous intersections.”

The expressway would provide a better transport link between Wellington and agricultural centres in the Manawatu, Mr Goldie said.

The project has been split into a north and south zone, centred on the Ōtaki River which will have a new, 330-metre reinforced concrete bridge. Construction on the bridge will happen at the same time.

The NZTA website says the project is expected to take four years.