Flyover will ease Basin congestion

Councils clash: Fran Wilde says the Wellington City Council has "invented a new option "on the hoof".
Councils clash: Fran Wilde says the Wellington City Council has "invented a new option "on the hoof".

Greater Wellington regional council has come out in support of a Basin Reserve flyover, saying it would help improve public transport times by 35 per cent.

The position flies in the face of Wellington City Council's stance, which calls for a tunnel underneath the cricket ground.

Greater Wellington will debate the submission to the New Zealand Transport Agency at a committee meeting tomorrow, but the draft version supports Option A - a $75 million flyover about 20 metres to the north of the Basin Reserve.

The Transport Agency has also consulted on Option B, which would cost $90m and be 65m north of the Basin.

Last week the city council backed a move by mayor Celia Wade-Brown to call for the agency to consider an east-west tunnel. The exact cost of a tunnel is unknown, but a discarded option that linked Patterson St with Buckle St had been estimated to cost up to $280m.

The Architecture Centre has also called for consideration of an alternative labelled Option X, which would involve building a tunnel under Buckle St. The agency has estimated it would cost at least $200m.

In the draft submission Greater Wellington labelled the cost of a tunnel or Option X too great. But it was likely the council would have supported the tunnel "had it proved affordable".

"However, even if funding for these more expensive alternative options were made available through the national land transport fund, the region would need to consider the subsequent impact on funding availability for other regional transport projects, in the context of the priorities set out in the Wellington Regional Land Transport Strategy."

Greater Wellington chairwoman Fran Wilde said a tunnel had been considered by NZTA in the past but dismissed as too expensive, and it appeared the city council had "invented a new option on the hoof".

The regional council had to look at what was best for the region, and a tunnel would mean no money was left over for other projects, she said.

The submission also called for any flyover to be "future- proofed" so that a tunnel under Memorial Park could be built later, if money became available. But while Greater Wellington labelled the tunnel options too expensive, it did support spending an extra $8m on a clip- on pedestrian and cycling facility, saying it would be a "missed opportunity" otherwise.

Ms Wilde said the project was essential for developing public transport corridors in Wellington. By separating traffic, bus travel times along Kent and Cambridge Terraces and Adelaide Rd would improve by up to 35 per cent in peak times, she said.

"This is the biggest hold-up intersection around at the moment and we just need to get it fixed."

The flyover is part of a proposed development of the Buckle St to Cobham St stretch of State Highway 1 as part of the Levin to Wellington Airport Road of National Significance.

The Dominion Post