The power of collaboration
With the opening of the MacKays to Peka Peka Expressway, the Kapiti district will finally have a much needed second north-south connection. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
For more than 50 years, a second north-south road that would relieve the pressure on State Highway 1 and connect the communities within the district had been on the books.
In 2009, the NZ Transport Agency announced it intended building the MacKays to Peka Peka Expressway, generally following the designation for the just consented Kapiti Coast District’s Western Link Road.
Severing a number of communities on the coast – Waikanae, Paraparaumu and Raumati – the proposed expressway would have a major impact on the district.
Emotions ran high in the Kapiti community – some people opposed the proposed route of the expressway while others were supportive. There were more than 700 submissions on the proposal to the Board of Inquiry, followed by three months of hearings.
While the Kapiti Coast District Council was initially in the opposition camp, the big question was do we continue to be an adversary and oppose the expressway or support it and work with central government to gain as many positive outcomes for the district as possible?
Had we continued to oppose the expressway and won, it would have been a pyrrhic victory.
A lack of a second north-south route was choking SH1, adversely affecting the quality of life in our district and constraining economic growth. Also, while there was uncertainty, developers were reluctant to build much needed additional east-west connections.
Shortly after the announcement was made, the Transport Agency invited the council to join the MacKays to Peka Peka Expressway Alliance – a private sector consortium set-up to design and build the $630 million Expressway.
Joining the Alliance, we believed, gave the council the best opportunity to provide certainty for our community and realise potential benefits as well as minimising the impacts. However, we made it clear to the Transport Agency that our support for the expressway was conditional upon being able to advocate for and protect the community’s interests.
Seven years after the NZ Transport Agency consulted on route options for the MacKays to Peka Peka Expressway, the project is near completion.
Are we satisfied we did the right thing by joining the Alliance? Are we satisfied we’ve looked after the community’s interests? Yes.
Through effort and careful negotiation, our council has worked collaboratively and in partnership with the Alliance to provide significant social, economic and environmental benefits for the Kapiti Coast community.
That’s not to say it hasn’t been a contentious project with, for example, more than 100 residential properties purchased to enable expressway construction.
But everyone was committed to engaging with our community, doing a high-quality job and delivering a project the community would be proud of. This has been an example of central and local government collaboration at its best.
A project that started in an adversarial climate is finishing with a strong degree of community buy-in and a much needed second north-south connection for the district.
By Pat Dougherty, chief executive of Kapiti Coast District Council.
Transport minister Simon Bridges at the official completion ceremony for the Mackays to Peka Peka section of the Kapiti expressway.