The NZ Transport Agency has welcomed a Ministerial direction to refer its regulatory consents application for the MacKays to Peka Peka project to a Board of Inquiry.
The NZTA State Highway Manager Rod James said the decision by the Minister for the Environment to refer the application to a Board of Inquiry is an important milestone for the Kapiti Coast district and Wellington region as this will allow the project to move more quickly through the regulatory consenting process.
Similar NZTA major roading projects, such as the Waterview Connection and Transmission Gully projects, have both been through Board of Inquiry processes which have seen final decisions delivered in under a year.
Mr James said the NZTA had completed a significant amount of detailed investigations on the MacKays to Peka Peka project to ensure a thorough understanding of the effects and opportunities the project will have and this is reflected in the large volume of information that had been provided with the application.
“We will continue to work closely with the community, local authorities and other stakeholders to ensure they are fully informed about the application. All the information presented with the application is available for the public to access on our website and through that of the Environmental Protection Authority,” he said.
The MacKays to Peka Peka route, together with the Peka Peka to Otaki section, comprise the planned Kapiti Expressway which, in turn, is an integral component of the Wellington Northern Corridor from Levin to Wellington Airport. The different sections of the Wellington Northern Corridor project aim to improve traffic congestion, travel time reliability and safety on the route.
The Wellington Northern Corridor is also one of seven ‘roads of national significance’ that the Government has identified as essential state highways requiring upgrading to reduce traffic congestion, improve safety and support economic growth in New Zealand.
Mr James said the Board of Inquiry process provided an excellent opportunity for submitters supporting or opposing regulatory consents applications, such as those for the MacKays to Peka Peka project, to have their submissions heard and considered through that process.
“The NZTA is pleased that the evidence it will provide with respect to its application for the MacKays to Peka Peka project will be thoroughly tested. The Board of Inquiry process will ensure that the NZTA constructs projects that will best benefit New Zealand,” he said.
In 2009, Kapiti residents were consulted on options for a four-lane expressway between MacKays and Peka Peka. The proposals reached after the 2009 public consultation were presented for further public consultation from November 2010 to February 2011.
In May 2011, the NZTA announced the confirmed expressway alignment and since then, the project team had been preparing the necessary information and documentation in preparation for lodgement of the regulatory consents application for the project.
Mr James said the MacKays to Peka Peka route is expected to cost $630 million, in 2011 dollars, to build subject to regulatory consent and market conditions prior to construction.
“If the regulatory consents application for the project is granted, construction is scheduled for the 2013-2017 period,” he said.