Kāpiti Coast, Tuesday 24 April 2018 - A green light for the Otāki to North Levin section of the Expressway will give businesses on the Kapiti Coast a welcome boost of confidence.
Despite recent assurances from the Prime Minister that the road is still in the planning phases, the reluctance of the Minister of Transport to fully commit to completing the project is affecting business confidence, due to the ongoing uncertainty around the road’s future.
Heather Hutchings, Chair of the Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce, says finishing the road as planned is a critical for the Kāpiti and Horowhenua regions to meet their economic potential.
“Traffic north of the Kāpiti Expressway is often congested; the current single-lane highway means there are frequent delays. It can only take one incident - bad weather, flooding, or an accident - for SH1 to close. Travelling between Kāpiti and Horowhenua can be time-consuming and frustrating,” says Heather Hutchings.
“Our local businesses have been eagerly anticipating the potential that an Expressway from Levin to Kāpiti will bring, particularly once it’s connected with Transmission Gully. If the road were to stop abruptly north of Otāki, it would severely restrict the future growth of our region”.
Angela Buswell, a Kāpiti Councillor and Levin business owner, says the current State Highway is no longer fit for purpose.
“There have been 21 accidents this year between Otaki and Levin involving customers and staff. We need the full Expressway to improve safety and connectivity. I think it will enhance Levin’s town centre, with fewer noisy trucks passing through, make it a more pleasurable experience”.
The Kāpiti Coast District Council’s recent economic update saw Kāpiti’s economy outperform the Wellington Regional Average in 2017, expanding 2.7% percent vs 2.2% overall. It also recognised that transport improvements had encouraged businesses to look further afield to Kāpiti - but noted there was still uncertainty about the Expressway north of Otāki.
“Since the Expressway opened, our unemployment rate has dropped in a year from 5.4% to 4.4% - and we are below the national rate of 4.7%. Traffic flows through the district have increased by 4.6%, compared to 1.6% across the rest of the country. It’s easy to measure the positive impact the Expressway is having. We need communities north of Otāki to experience the same growth.
“Beyond Kāpiti and Horowhenua, we need the Government to understand how important a fully completed Expressway is to the future of the Wellington region. To realise our full potential, we need a world-class connection from Northern Levin through to Wellington’s CBD - we urge the Government to give the road the go-ahead,” says Heather Hutchings.
The Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce exists to advance the economy by creating wealth and employment and solve local business issues by providing a collective voice for business in Kāpiti. Over 300 members in Kāpiti belong to the Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce to stay connected, network and gain knowledge and support from our local membership.