Let’s get Welly moving...
Wellington’s Inner City Bypass could be sent underground and a flyover near the Basin Reserve could be back on the table if a $2.3 billion-plus proposal to solve the capital’s congestion issues gets public support.
The proposal is one of four ‘‘scenarios’’ aimed at solving congestion problems between Wellington Airport and the Ngauranga Gorge, which will be put out for public consultation over the next month.
They include proposals to duplicate the Mt Victoria and Terrace tunnels, reduce the number of vehicle lanes along the waterfront quays, remove private vehicles from parts of the Golden Mile and take away peak-hour parking on Vivian St.
The scenarios are based around the concept of creating a ‘‘mass transit’’ public transport route between Wellington Railway Station and the suburbs of Newtown and Kilbirnie, out to the airport. It could take the form of a rapid bus route, light rail, or something else entirely.
The scenarios have been developed by the Let’s Get Wellington Moving working group, a joint initiative between Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).
The group was formed after the agency’s plans for a two-lane highway flyover, 20 metres from the Basin Reserve cricket ground, were scuppered by a Board of Inquiry in late 2014.
The new proposals, unveiled yesterday, range in price from $150 million to more than $2.3b.
The most expensive scenario is expected to take more than 10 years to complete.
Bridges or tunnels would be constructed at the Basin roundabout, and State Highway 1 traffic on Vivian St would be moved to a tunnel under the Inner City Bypass route, which encompasses Arthur St and Karo Drive.
This option could include constructing a tunnel under the Basin Reserve as well, rather than a flyover, which would add to the $2.3b cost of the package.
Two of the six traffic lanes along the waterfront quays would be replaced by cycle lanes, the Mt Victoria and Terrace tunnels would be duplicated, and a fourth southbound lane would be added to the urban motorway between Aotea and Ngauranga.
There would also be cycle lanes along key routes connecting to northern and southern cycleways, as well as priority for pedestrians along those routes and at some central city intersections.
Light rail through the central city would cost between $350m and $500m more, and take an extra 18 months to complete.
Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter said the proposals did not go far enough towards meeting the project’s objective of reducing private vehicle use, noting the changes would only reduce morning peak traffic by 1 to 4 per cent.
While there was a ‘‘concept’’ of mass transit public transport, there was too much focus on increasing vehicle capacity, with three of the four options involving roading projects.
Tim Jones, spokesman for the Save the Basin group that opposed the flyover, agreed, and was outraged that a variant of the Basin flyover was still on the cards.
‘‘NZTA’s Basin Reserve flyover project was an utter failure, and was rightly rejected by the courts,’’ he said.
‘‘Let’s Get Wellington Moving, and especially NZTA, know people don’t want this failed flyover plan, yet here they go again.’’
Programme director Barry Mein acknowledged the forecast vehicle reduction was not as great as it could be.
‘‘It is a reduction but it may be that people want us to go further than that.’’
But he rejected suggestions the proposals were too road-focused, saying the group had achieved a balance between accommodating all transport modes.
‘‘We’ve transferred road space from vehicles to public transport and walking in a number of places, such as Willis St and Lambton Quay.’’
It was expected mass transit would be needed to cope with demand in about 10 years, and Mein accepted some people might want the city to prepare for that now, rather than waiting until the demand was there.
‘‘That could very well be the feedback that we get.’’
Submissions on the proposals will be open until December 15, with the final scenario to be revealed early next year.