The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has announced its preferred alignment for stage two of the Christchurch Southern Motorway, which will take the motorway from the end of the currently under construction stage one section, which ends at Halswell Junction Rd, to just south of Templeton. The preferred alignment for the third stage, the four-laning of State Highway One between Templeton and Rolleston, was also announced with the road to be widened toward the west (i.e. toward the railway tracks).
However, not everyone is happy and the media have made a big deal out of a petition signed by over 400 Prebbleton residents who prefer a more northerly alignment (or rather, an alignment further away from their houses). The fact is though that these people have had ample opportunity to have their say, the motorway doesn’t exactly run right next to their dwellings (I heard some poor soul on the news is aghast that the motorway will be only 500m from their house! I mean, half a kilometer? Gasp!), the northerly alignment affects future industrial land that could be vital to the recovering economy, and three open days are still to be held where locals can discuss the plans with NZTA. It is also simply a fact that for at least the last decade, perhaps more, this area has been increasingly urbanised and anyone moving there to get away from the city is simply kidding themselves.
A couple of things that I believe should be considered with this latest announcement are to do with the railway corridor. First, the second stage crosses the Prebbleton line towards its southern end, and I would hope that an allowance is made for the possible future use of the line. By this I mean that I hope the motorway passes over the railway corridor and it isn’t simply cut back further. It would be shameful if they allowed another short-sighted decision to be made, like Addington Junction, that squanders a transport asset and requires millions to be spent fixing in future. Protecting this corridor should be of extreme importance and I would hope the Christchurch City Council, Kiwirail, and NZTA make suitable allowances. The second point of concern has to do with the widening of SH1. I will be interesting to see what effects this might have on the rail corridor and its potential to be developed in future for passenger rail use. I wouldn’t be too worried now, but it is something I think authorities should be mindful of.
Construction of stage two is due to begin in 2015. The open days mentioned above are being held on the following days and at the following locations:
- Wednesday 24 August – 5.30pm – 9.00pm, Prebbleton Hall, 617 Springs Road
- Friday 26 August – 10am – 2pm, Prebbleton Hall, 617 Springs Road
- Saturday 27 August – 10am – 2pm, Rolleston Community Centre, 94 Rolleston Drive