Pursued by a piece of road
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.’’