Plea by council for proposedhighway
Fears are growing that the proposed Petone to Grenada highway, north of Wellington, could be scrapped, prompting pleas from civic leaders to save it.
Wellington City Council is urging the Government not to ditch plans for the highway, which the council considers a priority project that is essential to the resilience of the city.
It is seeking an assurance that the highway will go ahead.
The planned $270 million, four-lane road between northern Wellington and Lower Hutt was sent back to the drawing board in December after a review suggested it would be prone to landslides and would cost more than was first thought.
Then in April, the Government unveiled its priorities for land transport, which included a huge investment in road safety and rapid rail at the expense of state highway projects.
Concerns were raised that this would spell the end for the Petone to Grenada highway and the proposed Melling interchange in Lower Hutt. Transport Minister Phil Twyford said then that those decisions would be made by the New Zealand Transport Agency.
The city council has since made a submission to the Government, which includes a funding request for the proposed Cross Valley link road between Seaview and State Highway 2 in Lower Hutt.
Wellington’s resilience planning includes having completed the Petone to Grenada highway and other projects on State Highway 1 by 2043, to improve access to and from the city in case of an emergency, the submission says.
Wellington City councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman, who holds the capital’s transport portfolio, told a council meet- ing last week that motorways were a double-edged sword.
Having multiple routes out of Wellington would be useful in the wake of a devastating natural disaster, but every time a motorway or improved arterial route was created, it encouraged people to live and commute further out.
‘‘We have seen the effects on the Ka¯piti expressway with queuing and we will see further effects more strongly when the Transmission Gully motorway comes into place,’’ he said.
‘‘The time is now to move ahead and get ready for that extra onslaught of extra vehicles.’’
The Petone to Grenada highway was important to Wellington City because it would relieve congestion and unlock land for development at Lincolnshire Farm, where there was the possibility of ‘‘extreme’’ medium-density housing and an express bus service.
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace said his council had made a similar submission.
An artist’s impression of the proposed Petone to Grenada highway between northern Wellington and Lower Hutt, showing the Petone interchange and a large cut into the local hillside. Wellington City Council now fears the Government may ditch the roading project.