Let’s get Welly mov­ing...

The Dominion Post - - Front Page - DAMIAN GE­ORGE

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.

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