Slowed, detoured, delayed
Wellington workers are returning from the summer break to a city of diggers, detours, and one massive downer: Get used to it.
Yesterday alone, Wellington City Council had 473 places around the city and suburbs where road cones were out and motorists could expect to slow, detour or be delayed.
On top of the well-publicised closures of arterial roads Willis St and Wallace St, a northbound lane of Customhouse Quay, between Brandon and Johnston streets, will be closed 24/7 for three months from tonight for earthquake strengthening on a neighbouring building. Brandon St will also close.
The city council is amid, just finished, or about to start resurfacing work on at least 24 suburban roads, generally running from 7am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
Wellington Water was to close the busy Vivian St overnight last night and tonight but this has been pushed back to start on Monday. It has also shut down Wallace St – a popular route servicing 20,000 commuters a day – until mid-2020 to install new water pipes.
The works come as optimism that emergency pipe works closing parts of Willis and Dixon streets would be done by February are fading to virtually nil, Wellington Water has confirmed.
Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Milford said the current works were merely a prelude to what Wellington could expect to accelerate in current years as the $6.4 billion
Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme of infrastructure works rolled out around the city.
Business owners largely understood work needed to be done, Milford said. ‘‘The key is, is it being done in the most effective way? Are people being kept in the loop?’’
The council needed to investigate how it could help if businesses were affected, through things such as improved access or rates relief, Milford said.
While most of the work around Wellington was planned, one major road closure has caught authorities off guard.
A wastewater tunnel collapsed before Christmas, resulting in two swimming pools’ worth of wastewater being dumped in the harbour. A stop-gap overland pipe was put in but, with the exception of some residents’ traffic, Willis St remains closed between Dixon and Ghuznee streets. Wellington Water had hoped to bury the pipe and open the road again in February.
Wellington Water spokesman Alexander van Paassen said that would now most likely be March or April – but even that was unknown.
‘‘It is an unusual circumstance – it is fast-tracking a process.’’
Wellington Water would usually plan a project such as this in an orderly sequence but in this case, it was simply diving in.
‘‘We are starting work without necessarily knowing how long we are expecting things to take,’’ he said.
On top of that was another unknown – the tunnel that collapsed beneath Dixon St was being decommissioned but Wellington Water was uncertain how long that would take.
Van Paassen said those works would not necessarily delay opening the far-busier Willis St.
Wellington has become a sea of road closures. Some streets will be either fully or partially closed for various reasons from earthquake strengthening to roadworks.
A building in Brandon St is being earthquake strengthened, also affecting one lane in Customhouse Quay.