Prospects for a Peka Peka interchange – some time in the future – on the Ōtaki expressway got a boost when Kāpiti councillors agreed to a motion supporting lobby group Finish Our Road.
The motion was put to the full council meeting on May 26 by Ōtaki Ward councillor and transport portfolio holder James Cootes.
Agreed unanimously, it “supports in principle investment by Waka Kotahi to provide south-facing connectivity at Peka Peka to make best use of the expressway investment, improve safety and avoid the costs to the community of using local roads; and to that end agrees to include this issue and the further impacts of ongoing growth in the North Waikanae, Peka Peka and Te Horo areas in the KCDC Growth Strategy.”
Councillors also agreed to support “ongoing work by the community to identify errors and inadequacies in the Waka Kotahi business case” and agree to register “an interest with Waka Kotahi for a future public works requirement for any surplus land associated with the proposed Peka Peka interchange”.
A spokesperson for Finish Our Road (FOR), Jenny Askwith, says the group is pleased the council has given unanimous support to the motion.
“It has taken a long time to get to this point, but it gives a clear message that council does now fully support a full Peka Peka interchange and will support FOR in its lobbying of central government to achieve south-facing connectivity at Peka Peka,” Jenny says. “Waikanae and north is a large growth area in the Kāpiti region and when the PP2Ō expressway opens, there will be conservatively an extra 2300 vehicle movements a day spilling onto the local Waikanae streets from the Peka Peka and Te Horo areas, which would be totally avoidable if they had access to the purpose-built expressway at Peka Peka.”
She says it’s become even more critical to have a south-facing access at Peka Peka, as the recent Budget did not include funding for a Capital Connection train upgrade, which would encourage public transport.
“In an area where there is no public transport option for many years to come, to expect Te Horo and Peka Peka residents to travel either north to Ōtaki, or through the urban streets of Waikanae to access the expressway southwards, is unacceptable in a time when we are meant to be reducing our carbon footprint and making our roads safer.”
Cr Cootes agrees there are good arguments for south-facing connectivity at Peka Peka.
“The group [FOR] pointed out that many aspects of the business case, which Waka Kotahi based their decision on, were flawed and the costs grossly overstated.
“South-facing connectivity would greatly reduce the use of local roads to access the expressway, bring safety and environmental benefits by reducing traffic through Waikanae’s local road network, and service the current and future growth in the northern parts of Kāpiti.”
He says modern expressways are making the network safer and should be used as much as possible to get traffic off local roads.
“We’ve seen with the Mackays to Peka Peka expressway a significant reduction in deaths and serious injuries because of its improved safety design. So from a Road to Zero perspective, it makes sense to use the expressways over local roads.
“Nationally we’ve also seen a significant uptake in electric and hybrid vehicle sales so while we do need to see investment in our public transport options we can’t do that at the expense of a safe and effective road network.”
The saga began in January 2019 when Waka Kotahi said it would not be building an interchange on the expressway. That decision was based on a business case that in part said the area was “void of employment, business or significant tourism activity”.
It also said projected growth in the area didn’t justify an interchange.
FOR was established and quickly suggested the business case was flawed and had several errors. The Ōtaki and Waikanae community boards possed motions of support which were then placed on the council agenda for May 23, 2019.
The motions were put to the council but instead of recommending the motion, the council simply “noted” it.
During this delay, FOR acknowledged that council staff and James had continued to support the group’s actions through several meetings and the supply of technical information.