Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Shrink big

Amid the raging tumult of the election campaign, it may
have been possible to miss the significance of the
announcement by Kapiti Coast District Council that the
status of the proposed Western Link Road has been
reduced from “highway” to “local road.” At the moment,
the only way to drive north from Paraparaumu Beach to
Waikanae is State Highway 1, which means that the
thousands of people living between the highway and the
coast have to cover much more distance than the crow
would if it flew. The Western Link Road, much nearer
the coast, would have made the journey more direct.

I was living on the Kapiti Coast when this project was
initially mooted; at that stage, a few years ago, it was
going to be a four-lane highway with major intersections.
The term "super-highway" gained some currency. A few
weeks ago, however, the council knocked two lanes off
that concept and now they're cutting right back on feeder
lanes and hormone-fed intersections. According to some
council panjandrum, quoted in the Dominion Post,
reducing the number of lanes at intersections will reduce
the road's environmental footprint, "making it more of a
local road than a highway." Let me quote further:

The council commissioned Common Ground
Studio, of Auckland, to come up with a more
environmentally friendly, lower-impact design
that preserved landscape features such as large
dunes, rather than bulldozing through them.


Glory be. Could the blinding reality of Peak Oil finally be
becoming perceivable at municipal level? We are going to
see a lot more of this from now on: fewer new roads, and
less grandiose ones if they get built at all. You don't have
to be an environmentalist to get your mind round this, just
an economist—though truth to tell, the two jobs are one
and the same. Kapiti councillor Peter Daniel has got the
hang of it anyway. "We are facing hard economic times,"
he says. "If we do not think small, I do not think we will get
anything."

1 comment:

Truth Seeker said...

This is a mixed blessing. There almost 50,000 people in the area for whom this road was to be the only alternative to SH1 when moving between Waikanae and Paraparaumu. If they are going to build only two lanes, I hope they do not allow parking on one or both sides as that would reduce it to a single lane.....

Apollo Dr in Albany is a nice, wide road until cars are parked on both sides. At that point, a pair of vehicles waiting to turn in to different nearby parking areas on opposite sides of the road can block all traffic in both directions for as long as it takes for one of them to wriggle through the line of steel bumper to bumper in the opposite direction.

Is Kapiti doing anything to restrict growth? Then we'll have something to cheer about. :-)