A long-awaited stretch of the Kapiti Coast expressway is due to open in time for Christmas, easing traffic congestion in one of the worst parts of the country.
The Peka Peka to Ōtaki section will start opening in stages from tonight and will fully open on Friday. It’s two years past its deadline and came in $230 million over budget, costing $445 million.
The final touches are still being done and today’s ribbon cutting couldn’t happen on the road itself but instead over a small nearby path.
The 14 kilometre four-lane expressway will run parallel to State Highway One which cuts through the heart of Ōtaki. It’s expected two thirds fewer vehicles will pass through the township.
“It’ll be nice to have a quiet main road, but not having the people around for the shops that might hurt the local community,” said Gary Gibbs, a local resident.
But there are silver linings.
“There'll be more opportunities for local people to come and shop here... it's really quite difficult to find a parking spot, the traffic's crawling,” said Adrian Gregory from Elevate Ōtaki. The group was funded by the Kapiti Coast District Council and Waka Kotahi to help businesses prepare for the expressway.
The National Government gave the project the green light in 2016 and construction started in November 2017.
The Associate Transport Minister Kieran McAnulty said the road’s original budget was underestimated, and supply chain problems, covid delays and inflation added to the rising costs.
The Peka Peka to Ōtaki expressway is one of four that make up Wellington’s “northern corridor”.
Transmission Gully has already opened, as has MacKays to Peka Peka. Construction on the Levin to Ōtaki stretch is due to start in 2025.