Wellington motorists will save just 90 seconds of driving time if the controversial Basin Reserve flyover goes ahead, a hearing has been told.
The New Zealand Transport Agency defended the project against a barrage of criticism at a board of inquiry hearing yesterday.
NZTA Wellington state highways manager Rod James said the flyover would boost the efficiency of State Highway 1 and improve safety, while giving better access to Wellington Airport and Wellington Hospital.
It would also ease congestion, and support economic growth, he said. "We see this [area] as a major constraint on the Wellington region and it's overdue for improvement."
Lawyer Philip Milne, representing the Architecture Centre and Newtown Residents' Association, said experts now agreed the $90 million project would result in just 90 seconds of travel time saved for westbound traffic from Goa St to Boulcott St.
A further six minutes would be saved by improvements along the route.
Mr James said that even if the time savings appeared small, the benefits would build up over time.
Other advantages of the project also needed to taken into account.
Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson has said the Basin Reserve flyover was "a colossal waste of money when there are other alternatives available to improve traffic flow".
"The flyover is a flawed project. It would provide very little benefit while ruining the historic precinct around the Basin."
The four-member board of inquiry is considering NZTA's resource consent application to build a two-lane flyover, 20 metres north of the Basin Reserve. Yesterday was the fourth day of the eight-week hearing.
Mr Milne questioned how beneficial the project would be if a proposal to duplicate the Mt Victoria tunnel did not go ahead.
He asked why the two proposals were not merged into one project. "Some people are going to have to go through this all again."
But Mr James said the proposed flyover had major benefits on its own. It was not considered possible to wrap the projects together, he said.
Other major projects, such as Transmission Gully and the Peka Peka Expressway, were considered separately.
- The Dominion Post
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