NZTA’s consultation process for constructing the Holiday Highway has kicked off in a rather interesting fashion – as they’re inviting people to help “uncover Dome Valley’s secrets”. Here’s the media release:
Uncovering Dome Valley’s secrets – NZTA needs your help!
The new Puhoi to Wellsford road of national significance is about the future but the NZ Transport Agency says planning and construction of the route also has a lot to do with its historic past and its present day environment.
One area attracting attention from the NZTA as its consults with local people about the new highway is the Dome Valley, which includes a section of the existing State Highway 1.
“This part of Rodney is significant for two very different reasons – one has to do with its past and the other with the present,” says the NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland Tommy Parker.
The Dome Forest Conservation Area is acknowledged as containing a number of important heritage sites such as an historic log skidder close to the current highway. It is also the home to the endangered Hochstetter frog, one of four remaining native New Zealand frogs which is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The area is classified as an Outstanding Nature Landscape by the Auckland Regional Council due to its mature native vegetation, including kauri, rimu and kahikatea.
“Working together with the local community, local authorities and interested parties to identify special areas is vital for NZTA. Pinpointing as many special areas like this as possible helps us to do our very best to design a specific route that acknowledges those areas and provides mitigation where required,” Mr Parker says.
Other examples of important sites include businesses like Southern Paprika Limited north of Warkworth, family graves in rural areas, places of importance to Maori, and special fauna and flora such as rare native mistletoe.
“When it comes to the fine detail in planning the route of a new highway, there is no substitute for local information,” says Mr Parker.
Any further information on the project and the current consultation process can be found at www.nzta.govt.nz/puhoi-wellsford.
You are able to give rather specific feedback by filling in the “online consultation form”, which can be found here. I suggest with any feedback provide a liberal sprinkling of “this is a complete and utter waste of money” and “you’re condemning a lot of people to their deaths by not doing a safety upgrade to the road earlier“. I’ll put together my feedback and post it up here some time in the next few days once I’ve had the opportunity to have a good think about it.
One thing that is interesting, and it’s a bit of a conspiracy theory I suppose, is the slight feeling I get from reading that media release that NZTA kind of want problems for the road to come out of the woodwork, and want us to get an idea about how sensitive the environment through Dome Valley is in particular. I didn’t know that it was the home of the endangered Hochstetter Frog, I didn’t know that it as classified as an Outstanding Natural Landscape. To be honest, it’s actually rather odd that NZTA are telling us all this, as usually they try to downplay the environmental impact of any proposal.
Which is where my conspiracy theory comes in. Maybe this is a ploy by NZTA to invite problems for the project, because they’re smart enough to realise how utterly stupid it is, and what a complete waste of money it would be. Just as was the case for the review of the Harbour Crossing options – which I think Steven Joyce intended so that consideration of the ANZAC Bridge would occur, but that option has effectively been written off at the outset by 10 million uses of the word additional, I wonder if NZTA are almost trying to invite enough problems to ensure the project can’t get going before we have a different transport minister who’d be smart enough to can the whole thing.
Perhaps I’m completely wrong here and NZTA are just doing their job properly for once by trying to fully understand the constraints before they go and slam a motorway through an incredibly sensitive environment, but I’m sceptical. If my ‘conspiracy theory’ idea is right, then I have just three words to say:
Great work NZTA.