Pur­sued by a piece of road

The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE - JOEL MAXWELL

Anna Clisby feels like she’s be­ing chased by the latest ex­ten­sion to the Ka¯piti ex­press­way.

She sold her home on the out­skirts of Levin to the NZ Trans­port Agency when the land was po­ten­tially wanted for the $100 mil­lion-plus project, and moved to a new one in Ohau, to the south of the town.

Now she has re­ceived a letter say­ing her new home could be af­fected by the same route.

She thought she ‘‘fi­nally had clo­sure’’ af­ter the first sale, but the ar­rival of the latest letter on Tuesday came as a shock.

‘‘I can’t be­gin to tell you how gutwrench­ing this was, how I shook and choked back the tears.’’

Many Horowhenua res­i­dents re­ceived sim­i­lar let­ters on Tuesday last week – in­clud­ing Clisby’s par­ents, both in their 80s, who live north of Levin.

Clisby said a freep­hone num­ber in­cluded in the letter, to set up a meet­ing with NZTA, went through to an an­swer­phone, and af­ter two days none of her fam­ily had heard back from the agency. She had also tried con­tact­ing it by email.

The letter re­ferred peo­ple to a drop-in in­for­ma­tion shop in Levin. But she dis­cov­ered that would not open till Fe­bru­ary 7.

‘‘Who and where does an 86-year-old man and his 84-year-old wife go [to]? My fa­ther didn’t sleep last night, I can’t tell you how­many sleep­less nights I have had.’’

NZTA sent the let­ters to landown­ers whose prop­er­ties fall within the 300-me­tre cor­ri­dor for one or more of the op­tions run­ning through the dis­trict on the planned taki to North of Levin project.

The ex­press­way would con­nect to the Ka¯piti ex­press­way in the south, cre­at­ing a four-lane road to cen­tral Welling­ton, via Trans­mis­sion Gully. The letter did not in­clude the routes of any of the op­tions, which would be dis­cussed at the meet­ings, and put to the com­mu­nity this month.

Emma Speight, NZTA di­rec­tor of re­gional re­la­tion­ships, said it ‘‘un­der­stood this was a dif­fi­cult and uncer­tain time for po­ten­tially im­pacted landown­ers and com­mu­ni­ties’’.

‘‘NZTA takes these con­cerns very se­ri­ously and of­fers to meet with landown­ers at a time and place that suits them. We also of­fer ad­di­tional sup­port where it is needed.’’

She said the agency was ‘‘work­ing closely with the im­pacted com­mu­ni­ties and landown­ers’’, and was com­mit­ted to fi­nal­is­ing a pre­ferred cor­ri­dor and next steps this year.

A sec­ond round of pub­lic en­gage­ment would be held this month, ‘‘where in­for­ma­tion will be made avail­able to the wider pub­lic’’.

Agency staff con­tacted Clisby af­ter the asked ques­tions about her sit­u­a­tion, and Clisby con­firmed she and her fa­ther had been able to set up ameet­ing for this week.

In the mean­time, res­i­dents of the State High­way 1 vil­lage of Manakau have been us­ing so­cial me­dia to fig­ure out where the op­tions might run, based on who had re­ceived let­ters.

The ver­dict: the op­tions will prob­a­bly run to the east of the ex­ist­ing SH1, be­tween the vil­lage and the foothills of the Tararua range.

Carolyn Les­lie, who launched a Manakau Face­book page to share in­for­ma­tion on pos­si­ble routes, said her im­me­di­ate neigh­bours on North Manakau Rd had re­ceived let­ters but she had not. ‘‘I will be the last one sit­ting here.’’ She said the agency should have in­cluded the op­tions in the let­ters sent out to af­fected res­i­dents. Her home was in a ‘‘lit­tle hid­den val­ley’’ filled with life­style prop­er­ties. She had lived on the road since 2002, and no­body had pre­vi­ously thought there could be an ex­press­way through it.

Fur­ther to the south, Paula Iron­side said she was sent a letter say­ing her prop­erty would fall within 300m of all short­listed op­tions, so she would be af­fected which­ever was cho­sen.

She and hus­band Craig bought the prop­erty, on about nine hectares, for a thor­ough­bred stud, and were aware there was a chance the road could go through.

She agreed the ex­press­way needed to be built, with traf­fic of­ten clog­ging the high­way for ‘‘hours and hours on end’’. The cou­ple wanted in­for­ma­tion as quickly as pos­si­ble on what would hap­pen.

See Fak­ing a Plan, page 8

‘‘I can't be­gin to tell you how gutwrench­ing this was, how I shook and choked back the tears.’’

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