Takapu Val­ley link road dis­puted

May­ors re­turn fire over CEOs’ com­mit­tee re­port

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

Welling­ton’s may­ors de­liv­ered a re­sound­ing knock­back to NZ Trans­port Agency and their own chief ex­ec­u­tives last month, de­spite a threat.

The Re­gional Trans­port Com­mit­tee, com­pris­ing the re­gion’s may­ors, was due to dis­cuss a new high­way from Pe­tone to Gre­nada, along with a link road down Takapu Val­ley to Trans­mis­sion Gully.

A com­mit­tee of the chief ex­ec­u­tives of the re­gion’s coun­cils had pro­duced a re­port rec­om­mend­ing the com­mit­tee get be­hind the road and re­quested some as­pects of its con­struc­tion be ac­cel­er­ated.

But at the March 9 meet­ing, deputy chair­man Paul Swain, sup­ported by Welling­ton rep­re­sen­ta­tive Andy Foster, threw a span- ner in the works with a mo­tion call­ing for more in­for­ma­tion on the Takapu Val­ley route.

Takapu Val­ley res­i­dent Stephen Mulholland spoke to the com­mit­tee, say­ing a geotech­ni­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the route had failed to de­tect a fault line that was shown on GNS maps.

He said a ‘‘rookie mis­take’’ had also been made in the anal­y­sis of statis­tics, which had been borne out by flatlin­ing traf­fic growth.

An­other res­i­dent, Rob Suisted, said Takapu Val­ley had once been cho­sen for Trans­mis­sion Gully, but the en­vi­ron­ment com­mis­sioner and Welling­ton Re­gional Coun­cil had con­demned the choice in 1992, cit­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts.

The cost of the link road to the Trans­mis­sion Gully high­way would be 700 hectares of pris­tine ru­ral val­ley, the last big head­wa­ter of the Porirua Har­bour, ac­cess for bik­ers, horse rid­ers and walk­ers, the area’s big­gest sports fa­cil­ity and one of Welling­ton’s last his­toric ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

‘‘If we are go­ing to lose so much, I’d like to know it’s worth it,’’ Suisted said.

Swain was scathing of the chief ex­ec­u­tives’ re­port.

It was a $60 mil­lion de­ci­sion, he said. Be­fore mak­ing it there needed to be a clear un­der­stand­ing of what was to be done, what need was to be met, and the costs and benefits.

‘‘Ba­si­cally this is a fire­side chat. It’s not a ro­bust anal­y­sis,’’ he said.

‘‘A court would say, ‘How could they make this de­ci­sion to­day on the ba­sis of a three-page re­port that had no de­tailed anal­y­sis?’’’ he said. ‘‘There is a huge risk.’’

There were two more ur­gent trans­port pri­or­i­ties in the re­gion, he said – a cross-val­ley link road for the Hutt Val­ley and fix­ing ‘‘the fi­asco at Melling’’.

NZ Trans­port Agency rep­re­sen­ta­tive Raewyn Bleak­ley said she would not vote on the sub­ject, but de­lay­ing sup­port could mean a de­lay in the project’s start.

‘‘It will ul­ti­mately be the NZ Trans­port Agency board that makes the de­ci­sion on Pe­tone to Gre­nada,’’ she said.

The com­mit­tee needed to ap­prove the road for it to go be­fore the agency’s board in June.

Ob­jec­tors’ con­cerns could be ap­pro­pri­ately ad­dressed in the re­source con­sent, which was likely to be rig­or­ous, she said.

But Andy Foster, sit­ting on the com­mit­tee for Welling­ton mayor Celia Wade-Brown, said mat­ters could not be left to the con­sents process.

‘‘We’ve done that be­fore and it’s left us with a bloody nose,’’ he said, re­fer­ring to the Basin Re­serve fly­over.

Com­mit­tee chair­woman Fran Wilde said she had heard a threat from Bleak­ley.

‘‘I am sad to hear the high­ways team at NZ Trans­port Agency say­ing that with­out a de­ci­sion on this add-on – and it is an add-on – we can’t pro­ceed with the rest of the project,’’ Wilde said.

The Gre­nada- to- Pe­tone high­way had been in the plan­ning for years, but the Takapu Val­ley ex­ten­sion was a late ad­di­tion, she said.

‘‘It turns out it is not an op­tional ex­tra. I think that’s what I heard Raewyn Bleak­ley say.’’

Out­side the meet­ing an NZ Trans­port Agency spokesman clar­i­fied that the in­clu­sion of the project in the draft Re­gional Land Trans­port Plan would not af­fect its fund­ing sta­tus be­cause enough fund­ing was avail­able to cover all op­tions.

The com­mit­tee voted unan­i­mously to move an in­ter­change at Hay­wards traf­fic lights up the pri­or­ity list and also safety im­prove­ments to the State High­way 58–Hay­wards Hill Rd.

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