Let’s take advantage of this chance to get moving
OPINION: I’m pleased but not surprised to report that Wellington businesses have responded in strong numbers and strong terms to the Chamber of Commerce’s call to be heard on the Let’s Get Wellington Moving proposals.
Their continuing concern over traffic congestion and the effect it has on conducting business efficiently and implications for the region’s economy has prompted the biggest-ever response to one of our surveys – and comments are still coming in.
So far, there has been a smattering of support for the options that prioritise public transport, walking and cycling in the central city (scenario A), an extra Mt Victoria tunnel, and the separation of east-west traffic at the Basin Reserve to deliver mass transit to Newtown and the airport (scenario B, which includes A), and cut and cover through Te Aro (scenario C, which includes B).
But the majority favour scenario D, which includes all three options and adds an extra tunnel at The Terrace.
That would have the added benefit of eliminating bottlenecks there in the morning rush hour and on weekends, and removing traffic from the quays, thereby greatly improving access to the waterfront.
Here’s a sample of comments that reflect the majority preference:
❚ Take the lead of other cities around the world who have had success, and get on with it. Too much talking about it and not enough doing it.
❚ Let’s do what is needed, not what is easy. The benefits from this level of investment will sustain the economy for generations. The others [options] are short term only.
❚ It takes brave leadership to make
Get the traffic – foot, freight, mass, cyclists and vehicles – moving.
this happen. Hope we have that.
So, scenario D is hardly a surprise, since it achieves the most, and is in line with what businesses have been saying for years: get the traffic – foot, freight, mass, cyclists and vehicles – moving.
Though scenario A is the quickest and cheapest, it would deliver the least benefits.
As the scenarios grow towards D, they deliver more, including travel-time savings and opportunities to regenerate and develop the city.
They also have greater costs, greater impact on properties, more construction disruption, and there would be a loss of on-street parking.
Some would have difficulty with that, but I believe it would be a compromise worth making.
There is one further factor that’s worth considering for those still mulling over their submissions – resilience.
It’s a word we’ve heard a lot since the Kaikoura earthquake, and it should now be the key to everything we do in the infrastructure space across the region.
Having a brand-new extra tunnel at The Terrace and at Mt Victoria would also be like an extra insurance policy for our transport network.
Furthermore, we’ve got to ensure the mass modes we choose can adapt to the topography and are also themselves resilient.
Submissions don’t close till Friday week, and I urge everyone to have their say.
The chamber is working on its submission, and will wait a little longer to hear from members before finalising it.
So far, they’re giving us a mandate to support scenario D.
One of the key issues that should drive determination for our transport options should be on bringing benefits in economic growth and productivity, not just for the city and the region, but also nationally, and we believe scenario D will do that.
A note to those who don’t like flyovers: Let’s Get Wellington Moving says tunnels are in the mix at the Basin, so submit accordingly.
What happens there is crucial to getting rid of congestion and future-proofing efficient mass transit – things we all want. ❚ John Milford is the chief executive of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.
Traffic congestion at evening rush hour on Paterson Street, near the Basin Reserve in Wellington.