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Counting submissions: the Transport Agency sees things differently

takapu valley and dog

by Lindsay Shelton
The Transport Agency, persisting with its unpopular “option” to build a motorway through the rural Takapu Valley, has now also been challenged over its claim that there is strong community support for a new Link Road between the Hutt Valley and Porirua/Tawa.

In a lengthy media release this week, Rod James of the Transport Agency summarised its position as having “broad support,” while acknowledging “understandable concerns” about the Takapu Valley proposal:

“We’re pleased to see that feedback suggests we’re on the right track, and that the benefits to the region’s transport network are broadly supported. There is strong support for a link, and most submitters support the proposed route between Petone and the Crest. There are understandably concerns about the two proposed options to connect the Link Road to State Highway 1 north of Tawa, and together with our partners we are taking a very thorough look at this to consider the best way forward.”

But “strong support” was not shown in the DomPost’s summary of submissions:

The public has offered its two cents on the best way to build a new link road between Lower Hutt and Tawa – and their answer is to get on with a completely different project altogether. The Transport Agency yesterday revealed the opinions of 1415 people who provided feedback on its proposed Petone-to-Grenada road … There was “significant” support for upgrading the State Highway 58 route over Haywards Hill rather than developing a Petone-Grenada road. This was despite the topic of SH58 not technically being part of the consultation process.

Rob Suisted, winner of one of this week’s NZ Book Awards, was one of the first to question the Transport Agency’s view that it is “on the right track:”

The NZTA selectively picks favourable quotes … More than 1000 of the 1400 submissions had no view on a Petone to Grenada Road, but they were against the silly Takapu/Tawa options.

Then came comments from wellington.scoop readers. First, Terry

They forget to mention that nearly all the Mayors and the full Regional Council are against the north-south component that NZTA sneakily added onto the Petone to Grenada (an east-west link). They want to bulldoze Takapu Valley (as an add-on to the Petone to Grenada Road – making it a Petone to Judgeford Road without changing the name) which will be a huge green space loss for Wellington, and will alienate the public from much outdoor and sportsground access.

Just like the Basin Flyover, NZTA are showing that they’re not listening to what the public want, they’re manufacturing consent. Over 1000 of the 1400 submissions called for Takapu Valley to be left alone, but this doesn’t rate a mention in this spin.

Mike

We know that over 1,000 submissions said no to either C or D, as did the Regional Council, as did Peter Dunne, as did the Porirua Council. Route D up Takapu Valley turns Petone to Grenada effectively into a Petone to Paraparaumu, bypassing Porirua altogether (you can’t get off until Judgeford), and turning the road into a north-south link, which is neither needed nor beneficial to the region. If you were being charitable you would say that the NZTA are being ‘economical with the truth.’

Dave Wayne

Unbelievable that the NZTA spin doctors gloss over the fact that in excess of 71% submissions are against a link between Transmission Gully and the Petone to Grenada road.

John

To report “no clear preference for either option between the Escarpment and Tawa or Transmission Gully” is choosing to ignore the overwhelming feedback that sees no need for any Tawa/Takapu sections … presumably on the basis that “no” was not an NZTA option.

Takapu Valley residents have been fighting the Transport Agency’s plan to push a road through their rural valley since it was first announced early this year. On their website, here’s how they summarise the issue:

Transmission Gully was 20 years in the wrangling. The Petone to Grenada link road has been thrashed about for 6 years, and this Takapu proposal is in none of the public documents.

They’re shoving it into the plans at the last minute and giving us barely 6 weeks to scrape together our submissions. Why this sudden change of plans, and why the unseemly haste?

The proposed Takapu route bypasses SH1 completely – traffic coming from the Hutt would have to navigate multiple roundabouts to get onto SH1. The route seems designed to cut Porirua out of the loop, both northbound and southbound.

The Parliamentary Commission for the Environment in 1990 directed NZTA to run Transmission Gully to Linden, and stated that Takapu Valley should be protected. The Wellington Regional Council supported this directive with their own report in 1991. Transmission Gully can’t go down Takapu Valley, but NZTA is trying to sneak the road in through the back door, by calling it by a different name.

They say the costings are the same for the two options (Takapu Valley or SH1), but they haven’t actually surveyed the Takapu route — they haven’t started the geo-technical, seismic, or ecological work. They don’t know what they don’t know.
They are only looking at project costings, not the cost of maintenance that ratepayers will have to bear going forward.

And here is a summary of the options that are being discussed.

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