Visit connects fighter Des Webster with Waterview Connection

By Amelia Wade

Des Webster, 77, who championed the Waterview Connection for more than three decades. He was give a private tour of the site last week. Photo / Amelia Wade
Des Webster, 77, who championed the Waterview Connection for more than three decades. He was give a private tour of the site last week. Photo / Amelia Wade

It was the sheer size of the hole at the Waterview Connection that caught Des Webster's breath.

The pensioner had fought for more than 30 years, lobbying politicians, the council and central government to convince them the project was vital for his city's future. And last week, the 77-year-old was rewarded with a private tour of the sprawling tunnels which cut through Waterview's belly.

Mr Webster's fight began not long after he moved to Hillsborough Rd with his wife in the 1960s. They lived opposite Waikowhai Primary School on a double-S bend and car after car ploughed through their fence.

Mr Webster started doing research and came across the plans for the Western Ring Route - an alternative to the Auckland Harbour Bridge which would complete the extension of State Highway 20 from Hillsborough to the Northwestern Motorway and take pressure off State Highway 1.

Though when he went to the private sector with the plans, he was told he "could be kicking a dead horse because even if you get to extend the motorway westward, there's no money".

But piece by piece, Mr Webster watched the project come together. And in 2012 the enabling works started on the $1.4 billion Waterview Connection - New Zealand's largest and most ambitious roading project - with Alice the tunnel boring machine cutting through rock and earth to construct the 2.4km tunnels.

NZTA's Auckland highway manager, Brett Gliddon, said it was delighted to welcome Mr Webster to Waterview so he could see the progress and the final stages of completing a Western Ring Route that he has championed for many years.

Des Webster was rewarded with a private tour of the Waterview Connection tunnels he fought long and hard for. Photo / Dean Purcell
Des Webster was rewarded with a private tour of the Waterview Connection tunnels he fought long and hard for. Photo / Dean Purcell

- NZ Herald

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