Tunnel no longer an option for the Basin
MICHAEL FORBES AND PAUL EASTON
Eleventh-hour attempts to reignite debate over a Basin Reserve tunnel instead of a flyover have come to nothing.
The New Zealand Transport Agency says it is pressing ahead with plans to seek consent for its bridge design and will present its plans at a series of public meetings in Wellington, starting tonight.
The agency chose a $90 million flyover as its preferred solution to traffic congestion around the historic cricket ground in August. Since then it has employed urban designers to refine the design and the green space beneath it.
Members of the project and construction teams will be at meetings this week to chat to interested members of the public and answer questions.
Project co-ordinator Selwyn Blackmore said it was a chance for people to better understand what the agency was trying to achieve, ahead of it lodging consent applications with the Environmental Protection Authority early next year.
"One of the criticisms we've heard around that process is that it's very rushed for submitters. They often have to digest big reports in a short amount of time. So this is giving them an early heads-up," Mr Blackmore said.
The public would see the work on a new Basin Reserve grandstand, which was a work in progress.
"There is some concern that the bridge will impact on batsmen's views looking northwest, so we just haven't quite got there with the design yet."
Earlier this month, Greater Wellington regional council voted 7-6 to reopen debate over "Option X" - a cut-and-cover tunnel from Sussex St to Taranaki St, and pedestrian bridges at the Sussex-Buckle St intersection, for up to $175m.
NZTA met Greater Wellington councillors on Monday and decided the resolution would not go any further.
Council chairwoman Fran Wilde confirmed the tunnel option would not be pursued.
Paul Bruce, who put the tunnel motion before councillors this month, said NZTA had done a lot of work on landscaping its flyover plan.
"But essentially it's still a concrete bridge which is quite expensive."
NZTA Wellington state highways manager Rod James said Option X was impractical because it required between eight and 10 traffic lanes outside the Basin Reserve's northern front entrance, more property acquisition on Sussex and Rugby streets, and would force pedestrians and cyclists to climb a four-storey overbridge.
Information meetings will be held at Mt Cook School today from 4pm till 8pm, and on Saturday and Sunday at St Joseph's Church from 1pm till 5pm.
- The Dominion Post
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