I went to the “Roads of National Destruction” public meeting at St Joseph’s Church Hall in Mt Victoria on Tuesday evening. I came to the meeting angry about the massive waste of money inherent in the Government’s plans to spend $10.7 billion building new motorways throughout New Zealand – new motorways which are unnecessary in an era of Peak Oil and completely contrary to the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport. These projects are grandiosely entitled “Roads of National Significance”.
And I left the meeting angry about something else as well: that the trucking lobby’s pre-election political donations have bought a transport policy which is primarily designed to benefit the trucking industry.
But most of all, I left the meeting sad. While the official speakers were excellent, the contributions that made the most impact on me were pleas for help from Kapiti residents whose homes, lives and futures are being wrecked by on of Steven Joyce’s pet projects, the Kapiti Expressway.
The conflict between through traffic and local traffic in Kapiti has been a bugbear for many years. At last, a plan which combined rail improvements with building the relatively cheap Western Link Road, to take local Kapiti traffic off State Highway 1, was ready to go. Then Transport Minister Steven Joyce intervened, threw out the Western Link Road plan, and decreed that a Kapiti Expressway would be built instead.
And now the full implications of the Minister’s folly are becoming clear. If the Government succeeds in pushing its plan through, hundreds of people are going to lose their homes, and many more are going to lose parts of their properties. Through traffic and pollution will increase. Congestion will not be improved, because (at least until peak oil really hits home) new motorways induce new traffic.
The Kapiti Coast isn’t taking this lying down. Save Kapiti and Alliance for Sustainable Kapiti are working hard to oppose the Minister’s folly. At the meeting, these groups asked for help from everyone in the region who’s opposed to the Roads of National Destruction.
Here are two things you can do right now:
- Tell the New Zealand Transport Agency that you oppose the Kapiti Expressway. You can do this even if you do not live on the Kapiti Coast!
- Sign the Alliance for Sustainable Kapiti petition against the planned Expressway
A steering group has been set up to coordinate action against the Roads of National Stupidity through the Wellington region. You’ll be hearing plenty more about this in 2011, but these are steps you can take right now.