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Rebuff to NZTA: city councillors oppose plans for Takapu Valley and Tawa roading

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City councillors voted today that they agreed “neither the widening of State Highway 1 at Tawa nor a major road through Takapu Valley” should be part of the planned Petone to Grenada roading proposal. They voted (though not unanimously) that both proposals were rejected by the city council.

It was a major rebuff to the NZ Transport Agency.

The councillors also voted that they supported the “strong community opposition” to widening SH1 or building a Takapu Valley road.

However they agreed that Option A (the long-planned Petone to Grenada/Churton Park highway) did have their support.

And they supported the “strong community desire” for a new road from Petone to Grenada.

First moves towards rejection of the two roading proposals were initiated last Wednesday when Cr Helene Ritchie moved an amendment to this effect. But Wednesday night’s debate was adjourned till this morning.

And this morning’s debate became prolonged and confused, with the live coverage being interrupted several times while acceptable wording was negotiated.

A crowd of Takapu Valley residents watched the meeting with some anxiety till the final decision was reached about 11am.

Today’s council decision brings city councillors into line with the Regional Council, which also opposes the Takapu Valley road.

It is also a firm rebuff to a report prepared by council chief executive Kevin Lavery and other regional chief executives, who recommended that the road should be built. That report was rejected by the regional transport committee, whose mayoral members weirdly asked the Transport Agency to rewrite it. A request which seems to have been made redundant by today’s Wellington vote.

News from WCC
The Wellington City Council has voted against proposals by the New Zealand Transport Agency to build a new link road through the rural Takapu Valley or to widen the Porirua motorway through Tawa, while explicitly supporting the proposed Petone-to-Grenada road.

The Council’s Transport and Urban Development Committee Chair, Councillor Andy Foster, says: “The planned Petone-to-Grenada road will improve connection between the southern Hutt Valley and Porirua and north Wellington, reduce pressure on the Ngauranga Gorge, and provide a resilience option should any event affect the existing harbourside Hutt motorway.”

Cr Foster says at today’s Council meeting a large majority of Councillors were however unconvinced by the need for the Takapu Valley road proposal which was a late addition to the Petone-to-Grenada proposal and which would, if built, be a shortcut from the Petone-Grenada route to the Transmission Gully expressway.

Councillors also opposed an NZTA alternative plan to widen the motorway from the Tawa interchange north to the proposed Transmission Gully interchange at Kenepuru.

Cr Foster says the vote acknowledged the strong community opposition to the roads. “These two proposals came out of the blue early last year, and were an unpleasant surprise to the councils and to residents. Almost all the 1400 submissions NZTA received opposed either option.”

“The Council just does not think the case has been made, at the moment, for the Takapu link or the addition of lanes to the motorway – both proposals would cause major disruption to communities along the routes, and the Takapu route in particular was assessed as having potentially significant adverse environmental effects.

“While there are projections that there may be more congestion in the future on this route, the Council also received evidence that this may be many years away and some of the key assumptions about future traffic growth behind these projections can be reasonably contested.”

Cr Foster says Wellington City Council wants to work closely with NZTA, Greater Wellington Regional Council and neighbouring councils on planning for the Petone-Grenada route. “There are many significant issues to be resolved including the exact route, design, connections to State Highways 1 and 2, and local roads, landscape impacts especially on the harbour escarpment, and what to do with the fill from the project.”