The transport hot potato 

Via Waka Kotahi

Having just spent a week in the Kapiti area visiting family I had the opportunity to watch the saga surrounding the repeatedly delayed Transmission Gully Road.

It involves approximately 30 kilometres of four lane tarmac and some major bridges too.

The sod turning for the start of this overdue ribbon that by-passes a number of narrow and dangerous coastal constrictions, took place so long ago that the camera-grabbing politicians desiring to be seen at this notable event were of a National hue.

Four and a half years on we not only hear that there was a major cost blow-out – by just your mind-numbing amount of half a billion dollars – but also that there will not be any attempt to claw back any of this cost by way of a toll income.

Further, the twinning of construction teams under the much-vaunted PPP partnership has come almost to naught. Sure, there were Covid-related delays but what is happening (or rather not happening) is a sham of a disgraceful proportion.

Local bodies are running for cover, PPP members are fighting shy of the media and local mayors wringing their hands awaiting the sixth (yes sixth) announcement of an opening date. And from what I perceive no-one now wants to announce a date any tighter than ‘sometime in 2022’.

Switch your mind to our local section of the Waikato Expressway. Completed ahead of time, well under budget and with the advantage of a 110kph opportunity. And of the money saved a portion is going towards building the local part of the 57km cycleway.

Meanwhile back south again – just up the road northwards of the Gully terminal at McKays Crossing – the relatively new bypass missing out two key Kapiti townships was finished several years ago.

It is interesting to note that when these by-pass decisions are made there is usually a flurry of activity, mainly by retailers, that their business is to be doomed. Understandable that this is, perhaps it also presents an opportunity to refresh the town, change the mix of retail / hospitality and get on with life.

I recall writing an article in the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce 10 years ago advising the doomsayers that they should perceive this as a glass half full opportunity. And look now – how hard is it to find a car park in Victoria Street and the surrounding area?

Roading in an ever-growing community – and Cambridge certainly qualifies for that epithet – will always be a hot potato. The third bridge drum beaters will continue to clamour. Simply put – however well the case is argued – Waipā District Council is not imbued with a bottomless pit of funds.  A simple re-shape of traffic at the south end of the current high bridge has been in the council’s files for several years. If we can put in place a simple fix at almost no cost, we will all move around our fine town in a more relaxed fashion.

And to the polite man who stopped me last week to seek my Opinion input to his pet themes of roundabout driving behaviours and dog control, I hope this goes part way to assisting you.

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