by Andy Foster
I’ve been asked to set out the Wellington City Council’s position on the proposed Petone – Grenada road. The council has not yet formally discussed the NZ Transport Agency’s current proposals, though there have been internal discussions and the northern ward councillors and I have attended a number of resident meetings in Tawa including the very well attended one earlier this week.
Council officials on our behalf have written to the Transport Agency, and a follow up letter is also on its way.
Those letters set out a number of points.
Firstly that we support a road in principle. This is consistent with the Northern Growth Management Framework adopted in 2003 after extensive community engagement, and the District Plan changes that followed. This included a Structure Plan setting out the land use for the Lincolnshire Farm area bounded by Newlands, Horokiwi, Grenada and Takapu Valley. This layout included an indicative road alignment for a Petone – Grenada road which was supported in principle.
The proposed road clearly provides a much shorter connection between the southern Hutt Valley and Porirua/Tawa. It would facilitate the development of a business park at Lincolnshire as envisaged in the Framework. It would improve resilience, and significantly reduce pressure on the Ngauranga merge. In addition it has by far the best Benefit : Cost ratio of all the major roading in the region, so unlike some projects it has a good economic case.
However having said we support the road in principle, as indeed it seems do the vast majority of people including those in potentially affected areas, we have said that we are surprised at the change in the proposed route, and by the aim to seek additional roading capacity north of Grenada.
It is these two things of course which between them lead to most if not all the concerns being well expressed by residents.
We have also said that we want to work closely with the Transport Agency to try to address the issues which broadly
• Impact on the Harbour escarpment. The original expectation was to rise up from the coast through the Quarry area. NZTA are now saying that the geological conditions on the escarpment make this impractical, so it is proposed to take the road essentially straight into the escarpment which would clearly require an enormous cut. We have said we want to see and test the geological evidence, and if a cut is necessary then design and mitigation would be critical and we would need to work with NZTA to address this.
• Impacts on the landscape generally including what could be a very large cut through the Horokiwi area.
• Impacts on the communities of Horokiwi, Grenada, Tawa and Takapu Valley from the
changed road alignment.
• Impacts on Grenada North sports fields
• Impacts on the Belmont Gully system
• In addition we have said that we would need to work with the NZTA on issues around connections to the local roading network, multimodal use of any new road, funding, and timing.
• We are also asking for information about the NZTA’s projected future traffic volumes north of Grenada, and the assumptions behind the future numbers. We aren’t aware of any significant congestion in that area that would warrant additional capacity, and want to test the crystal ball that’s been used.
• We’ve also said that residents will need certainty as soon as possible about what is and is not planned, so that people do not have their lives put ‘on hold’ unnecessarily or for longer than is needed. That means dialogue and getting answers to those questions sooner rather than later.
Councillor Andy Foster is Chair of the city council’s Transport and Urban Development Committee
Read also: Takapu Valley vs NZ Transport Agency