First part of the Kāpiti Expressway approved

An independent Board of Inquiry, appointed by the Minister for the Environment, recently approved the proposed MacKays to Peka Peka Expressway north of Wellington, bringing to fruition three years of preparatory work.

A multi-disciplinary Boffa Miskell team played a significant role over the three years, working in a collaborative relationship with the MacKays to Peka Peka Alliance, comprising the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), Fletcher Construction, Beca, Higgins and others. The Alliance is responsible for the road’s design and construction.

Boffa Miskell provided planning, ecological, landscape, urban design, heritage and cultural services throughout the planning, preliminary design and consenting stages leading up to the Board of Inquiry hearing. These services included specialist assessment, design, iwi consultation and mitigation advice during the process of investigating and refining the alignment of the road corridor; and then the preparation and presentation of expert evidence and participation in the conferencing of experts at the Board of Inquiry hearing.

The 18-kilometre, four-lane expressway will be part of the Wellington Northern Corridor, one of seven roads of national significance (or RoNS) identified by the Government as essential highways requiring upgrading to improve journey time reliability, reduce traffic congestion, improve road safety and support economic activity in New Zealand.

As the Project’s Consenting Manager, Boffa Miskell planner, Robert Schofield, was responsible for the complex task of overseeing the preparation of the Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE), compiling all the regulatory consent applications, and applying to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for consideration by a Board of Inquiry on the grounds that the proposal is a matter of national significance.

“It was a very intense one-year process from the time we lodged the consent applications in April 2012 to the Board of Inquiry’s final decision nearly a year later,” Robert recalls, “There was a huge amount of expert evidence that needed to be prepared and co-ordinated for the eight-week hearing that started in November 2012, including my own on the statutory planning matters and the recommended conditions of consent.”

The idea of a road through the Kāpiti Coast, linking Wellington with destinations in the lower North Island, was first proposed in 1953 with a midline proclamation1 for the Wellington to Foxton Motorway, which then became a designation in the local district plans and was then replaced in the late 1990s with a designation for a major local arterial road through the area.

In 2009, after the MacKays to Peka Peka section of State Highway 1 was identified as part of the Wellington Northern Corridor RoNS, the NZTA invited submissions on three potential route options. The preferred route that was selected by NZTA’s Board generally followed the corridor that had been kept free of development because of the previous roading designations. The Alliance was then formed, through a competitive tendering process, to deliver the project, fully constructed, by 2017. The use of an Alliance model to obtain the necessary approvals, as well as providing the traditional post-consenting design and construction services, was a first for New Zealand.

Boffa Miskell landscape architects, urban planners and ecologists are now working with the Alliance team on the detailed design and construction of the Expressway. The ecologists will also be undertaking ecological monitoring throughout the construction phase to monitor against baseline data any potential effects on local ecology and provide advice on any further mitigation that might be required.

When the Expressway is completed, the existing SH1 corridor will be transformed to become a district arterial road, and Boffa Miskell is currently assisting in the investigation of options for its reconfiguration.

The four-year expressway construction period is expected to begin in July 2013.

1 – Notice that land to a certain distance each side of a defined middle line can be taken for a given purpose.

For further information please contact Robert Schofield

23 April 2013