The fight to stop the Beaumaris Boulevard extension has lasted more than a decade but now it has come to an end.
|Bethlehem Ratepayers Association members David Flatt and Willem Jonkers at the site where the new extension will connect with Beaumaris Boulevard.|
It has been a long journey for the Bethlehem Ratepayers Association’s over the last 11 years but they believe it was one that needed to be taken.
Over that period the association has made a submission to council every year opposing the extension and members have knocked on thousands of doors, conducted road surveys and spent $50,000 to $100,000 fighting the extension in the Environment Court.
The council says the extension is designed to reduce congestion on State Highway 2 and travel times for residents, and improve the connectivity between communities.
Established in 1996, the Bethlehem Ratepayers Association was set up to protect the community’s interest and the preservation of the Bethlehem Wetlands Reserve has been a focal point of that.
Members’ passion for the cause has even prompted one member to say he would donate $50,000 of his own money to charity if the extension was stopped.
They say the extension will completely destroy the wetlands and the prospect that construction on the extension will start next month is completely devastating.
Committee member Willem Jonkers has invested thousands of dollars of his own money into the association over the years and says he can’t believe the extension is finally going ahead.
“Even though it’s going ahead, I’m satisfied that we did everything that we could to stop it. We knew we were heading upstream without a paddle but we kept on fighting,” says Willem.
David Flatt, chairman of the Bethlehem Ratepayers Association, says the decision is disgusting.
“It defies logic when you look at the evidence. If anything angers me, it has been the sheer pig headedness of council since day one,” says David.
The original budget for the extension was $2.4 million which has now increased by $400,000.
Council currently has $160,000 set aside for the project but the rest of the funds will be raised through subdivision impact fees, a subsidy from the NZ Transit Agency and the rest will be loan funded. It is hoped construction will be complete by June 2010.