Council 'relaxed' about airport's drop-off rule

The council is "relaxed" about Wellington Airport's plans to restrict access to motorists.

The airport intends to install 19 barrier arms at either end of Stewart Duff Dr as part of a $5 million revamp that will create a new drop-off route designed to get rid of unwanted through-traffic.

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the council, which remains a significant shareholder in the airport, was "relaxed" about the changes as, theoretically, through traffic was not actually being stopped.

Stewart Duff Dr was not public land and was entirely owned by the airport.

He said traffic congestion was becoming a real issue at the airport and it took only a couple of minutes more to drive around the airport than to go through it.

Last year the airport restricted public access to Stewart Duff Dr for the same reasons, though this was never actively policed.

Motorists dropping off friends or relatives will have to take a ticket from a barrier and get out again within five minutes or they will be charged for overstaying.

The airport stressed yesterday that the plan was intended to reduce traffic congestion and was a necessary move.

Provisions would be made for disabled people if they needed more time, a spokesman said, but the five-minute time allowance would be more than enough for most.

Comments from readers have been mainly negative towards the plan, with many accusing the airport of simply revenue-gathering. Others have said that, though they might agree with the idea, the limit of five minutes was far too restrictive.

The airport estimates almost a third of the 23,000 vehicles that drive in and out each day are locals using the airport road as a short cut between Lyall Bay and the eastern suburbs.

People will still be able to use the road as a free through-route, as long as they can get in and out in five minutes.

Construction of the new route is due to start next month and be finished by the end of the year.

The Dominion Post