High­way projections chal­lenged

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

Traf­fic flow projections show­ing the pro­posed Pe­tone to Gre­nada link road should ex­tend to Trans­mis­sion Gully are dodgy, Takapu Val­ley res­i­dents told Welling­ton re­gional coun­cil­lors last week.

Bruce Flett told the coun­cil NZ Trans­port Agency’s cost­ings were poor and the road would cause ‘‘mas­sive con­ges­tion’’ where it met State High­way 1, whether south of Porirua or at Pau­ata­hanui.

Many coun­cil­lors agreed and the coun­cil is to sub­mit a pro­posal about the road that in­cludes many of his con­cerns.

Flett was speak­ing in the pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion sec­tion of the coun­cil’s meet­ing on May 21.

The agency’s stated ob­jec­tives for the road – safety, ef­fi­ciency, heavy commercial ve­hi­cle com­pat­i­bil­ity, sup­port­ing growth, net­work re­silience and min­imis­ing ad­verse ef­fects – were vague and could equally ap­ply to al­most any road project, he said.

‘‘You could build a tun­nel un­der Rimu­taka Hill and it would meet these ob­jec­tives.’’

With­out good ob­jec­tives, chances of suc­cess were very poor, he said.

Fur­ther­more, the agency’s traf­fic flow pro­jec­tion from 42,000 ve­hi­cles each day past Tawa Col­lege in 2001 to 62,000 by 2026 had shown no sign of even­tu­at­ing.

‘‘ We have ex­actly the same growth fig­ures be­ing used de­spite the fact that there has been no growth,’’ he said.

‘‘ Our con­tention is that the modelling is sus­pect, to say the least.’’

Coun­cil­lor Paul Swain, who was once the Min­is­ter of Trans­port, said the fig­ures threw all the modelling into doubt.

The spend­ing was self-de­feat­ing be­cause the road would com­pete with Welling­ton’s re­cently up­graded rail net­work. Both were funded by the agency.

‘‘It is dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand why NZ Trans­port Agency, the ma­jor fun­der of the rail up­grade, has come up with some­thing like this,’’ he said.

Nigel Wil­son de­scribed the plans to ex­tend the road as ‘‘ NZ Trans­port Agency nut­ti­ness’’.

‘‘It seems to me that agency think­ing is very siloed and leads to these in­con­gru­ous po­si­tions all the time,’’ he said.

Coun­cil chair­woman Fran Wilde told Flett the re­gional coun­cil’s sub­mis­sion on the route would re­flect most of his con­cerns.

The coun­cil’s sub­mis­sion re­jected both pos­si­ble ex­ten­sions and sup­ported an align­ment for the Pe­tone to Gre­nada sec­tion which avoided Bel­mont Re­gional Park and Korokoro Val­ley.

It also sup­ported a new in­ter- change at Pe­tone and called for walk­ing and cy­cling pro­vi­sions on the road, ma­jor im­prove­ments to Hay­ward’s Hill road and for the the agency to work with Hutt City Coun­cil to de­velop a cross-val­ley link to make the best of the new high­way. Traf­fic flows past Tawa Col­lege on State High­way 1 have in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly since 2001.

NZ Trans­port Agency fig­ures show there were just un­der 38,000 ve­hi­cles each day in 2001 and the lat­est fig­ure is 42,000, an in­crease of 10.5 per cent.

The agency’s

Welling­ton high­ways man­ager, Rod James, said traf­fic lev­els were ex­pected to rise more by 2026 be­cause the new road would change travel pat­terns by cre­at­ing a di­rect link to the Hutt Val­ley.

It pro­vided a real op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide shorter, safer jour­neys for thou­sands of people daily, will bring the re­gion closer to­gether, fos­ter eco­nomic growth and pro­vide the con­fi­dence of an al­ter­na­tive route in the event of ma­jor crashes or earthquakes.

The agency un­der­stood there were con­cerns and no de­ci­sions had been made, par­tic­u­larly for deal­ing with fore­cast con­ges­tion north of Gre­nada.

The two op­tions that Bruce Flett and the re­gional coun­cil ob­jected to, C and D, had been de­signed to pre­vent con­ges­tion by pro­vid­ing additional ca­pac­ity to ac­com­mo­date the pro­jected in­creased traf­fic trav­el­ling be­tween Trans­mis­sion Gully and the pro­posed link road.

Al­though Flett be­lieved the project’s ob­jec­tives were vague and generic, the 1400 sub­mis­sions from the pub­lic showed wide­spread ac­cep­tance of them, James said. They re­lated to safety, re­silience in the event of ma­jor dis­rup­tion, eco­nomic growth and en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects. The project cost es­ti­mate be­tween $250m and $ 270m was stan­dard for large projects, he said.

Photo: JIM CHIPP

Critic: Takapu Rd res­i­dent Bruce Flett, who chal­lenged NZ Trans­port Agency’s anal­y­sis of the need for a new road link­ing Pe­tone and Gre­nada with Trans­mis­sion Gully.

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