No quick fixes at the Basin Reserve
OPINION: The infamous chokepoint needs a smart solution with community input, say Paul Swain, Celia Wade-Brown and Raewyn Bleakley.
Richard Reid's opinion piece (There's already a Basin Reserve traffic solution ready to go, March 29) outlines his proposed solution to congestion problems around the Basin Reserve.
In the wake of the High Court's Basin Bridge decision last year, Wellington's transport leaders established the Ngauranga to Airport programme – a partnership between the Greater Wellington Regional Council, Wellington City Council and NZ Transport Agency to take a fresh look at the way we plan our transport system and the contribution it makes to how our city looks, feels and functions.
We need to look at the network as a whole. Quick fixes on a single choke point simply won't work. As the name suggests, our focus is on the entire corridor from Ngauranga Gorge to the airport, which encompasses the Wellington urban motorway to Wellington Hospital and international airport, and connections to the eastern and southern suburbs.
Reliable access to the hospital and the airport is important to everyone in the region, including those who live in Porirua, Hutt Valley, Kapiti Coast and the Wairarapa – not just those who choose to live in Wellington's inner city.
We know that Wellington has a challenging topography, and that we need to think smartly to make the best use of our land and our transport corridors.
We know that the Basin Reserve is a very busy area through which north-south traffic and east-west traffic competes for limited road space with walkers and cyclists.
Our options are constrained because the area has the historic Basin Reserve cricket ground, which as a region we are committed to protecting, along with many other cultural, amenity and heritage items of significance.
At the end of last year, we had positive meetings with a range of interested parties, including Reid and John Foster. We discussed our new approach which focuses on people and collaboration.
This new approach puts the emphasis on engaging with communities, stakeholders, and transport and urban design experts on how we can best get people moving around and through the city safely and efficiently while protecting the look and feel of the place and minimising our impact on climate change.
We're inviting Wellingtonians to join a conversation about our city and transport system, using a range of methods including online tools and face-to-face conversations. People can register their interest at www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/basin-connections/register-your-interest
Our goal is to use those conversations to understand the issues people are facing, and help us develop some basic principles for the future of Wellington's transport network and how it relates to the city's design.
We'll then move into a period of development and assessment of scenarios and solutions, when we will look at every idea or suggestion and how they could fit within the wider network. We'll keep people informed of progress as we design the new approach.
While we want to get the solutions right for the wider network and in the long term, we are already making progress. Alongside this conversation, Wellington City Council and the NZ Transport Agency have recently allocated funding to some more immediate improvements to the network for the city's transport users, such as investing in a range of enhancements for pedestrians.
After 150 years since becoming New Zealand's capital city, we think Wellington is ready for a new conversation about our city's transport future – we look forward to hearing people's ideas.
Wellingtonians' ideas are important. This is their transport system, their region, their home. We want them to be involved in designing its future. We know they will have some ideas about what's best for Wellington. We're here to make sure those ideas are listened to and that they help shape the future.
Let's get Wellington moving.
Paul Swain is the regional transport committee chairman, Celia Wade-Brown is Mayor of Wellington and Raewyn Bleakley is the regional director for the NZ Transport Agency.
- The Dominion Post