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Crash reinforces need for expressway – mayor

A crash that closed State Highway 1 is being cited as a reminder of why the all-but-approved next stage of the Kapiti Expressway is needed.

An independent board of inquiry released its draft decision on the planned Peka Peka to Otaki expressway yesterday.

In an unanimous decision, the board granted provisional resource consent for the 13-kilometre, four-lane stretch of road that the NZ Transport Agency wants to build.

Kapiti Mayor Ross Church said crashes and road blockages were common on the stretch of highway, particularly on Friday afternoons and long weekends.

“You get people that insist we don’t need this new expressway but, by jove, we do,” he said.

A three-car crash south of Levin yesterday afternoon caused congestion on SH1, with motorists taking two hours to get from Raumati to Waikanae – usually not much more than a 10-minute drive.

A 76-year-old man was killed and three people were injured, in the crash. It appeared that a north-bound Toyata Hilux crossed the centre line, crashing into a Suzuki Swift before colliding with a BMW, which the killed man was driving, police said.

While the crash was north of where the expressway would end, it was a timely reminder that “the current road is just not adequate and it just doesn’t work”, Mr Church said.

The new road would bypass the Otaki town centre but the council had ensured there would be adequate access routes.

Now the draft decision has been released, only minor or technical aspects of it can be challenged before the board releases its final decision in February.

While the draft decision comes with pages of requirements NZTA must meet, none are expected to be a major hurdle.

The expressway is part of the Wellington Northern Corridor, a road of national significance that will eventually stretch from Wellington Airport to Levin.

NZTA spokesman Anthony Frith said the agency planned to begin construction in 2016, with a time frame of about two years.

The first stage of the Kapiti Expressway – a $630m project between McKays Crossing and Peka Peka – received resource consent this year.

– © Fairfax NZ News

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