As nearly everybody is aware, the Kapiti Expressway, also known as the Sandhills Expressway, is now being constructed under the present central government’s “Roads of National Significance” plan. Like the water meters, a large number of locals were unhappy about it, and like the water meters, it is now a fait accompli. Exactly when it will be complete and opened is uncertain, but it will be within a couple of years.
Before it sees a single passing car or truck, however, the physical divide will be obvious to all those who drive along Te Moana Road towards the Waikanae Beach, or walk/cycle down the Waikanae River banks.
The existing State Highway One combined with the Main Trunk Railway alongside has long represented one physical divide and the railway will still do that.
The Expressway with its bridges over both the Waikanae River and Te Moana Road will be another divide.
How much traffic which, instead of travelling through Waikanae on the today SH1, will travel along the Expressway remains to be seen, but it’s a safe guess that about 60% of it will take new route. Thus for most of these travellers, the experience of Waikanae will be limited to a view of a few low undulating hills and a glimpse of the Waikanae River.
As there will be an interchange with Te Moana Road less than 1 km from Waikanae Beach, however, the beach will be much closer than it is from the present SH1, thus the impact on visitor numbers to the beach and the few shops along it (3 cafés, 1 small grocer and a Kiwiana shop open on weekends) will be minimal, and there could even be a slight visitor increase.
But how many will take the off-ramp and turn east to frequent the shops along the present SH1? It’s likely that hardly any will. It will be interesting to see too, how many who live west of the Expressway in the beach area will, instead of going to do their weekly shopping in Waikanae, travel down to the Coastlands mall area in Paraparaumu as the Expressway on-ramp will be close to them.
The Waikanae businesses along the west side of the today SH1 that sell petrol (2 stations plus New World) and small items including food will be most affected by the Expressway, and it’s probable that the drop in trade will affect their viability to the point that they may close within months of the Expressway opening.