Alternative flyover plan would need more land

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 11:45 11/03/2014
Basin flyover
BASIN DESIGNS: The Basin Reserve as it is today compared to what it would look like under the Reid alternative.

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A new $20 million apartment complex across the road from the Basin Reserve isn't even finished yet, but there is already talk of acquiring its land for an alternative to the flyover.

At the flyover's board of inquiry hearing this morning, discussion turned to the amount of land that would be needed to build the Basin Reserve Roundabout Enhancement Option (Brreo).

Brreo is an alternative to the NZ Transport Agency's proposed two-lane highway flyover, 20 metres north of the historic cricket ground.

It has support from opposition groups Save the Basin and the Mount Victoria Residents Association.

The Brreo plan, also known as Option RR, involves widening the Basin roundabout to three lanes for north to south and east to west travel.

Architect Richard Reid says this will provide enough room for all state highway and local traffic to flow comfortably around the Basin, eliminating the need for a flyover.

He has also said a small area of land on the southwest corner of the ground will have to go to make room for the extra lanes, as will the Duckworth-Lewis Hotel on the corner of Adelaide Rd and Rugby St.

But this morning, transport agency lawyer Andrew Cameron said its planners had cast an eye over Brreo and found it would also need land from the Nouvo apartment complex being built on Rugby St.

The $20 million development beside the gates to Government House will include 44 apartments in two five-storey blocks, as well as a row of 11 townhouses.

Construction began in 2012 is scheduled to be completed this year.

Mr Reid said the agency's calculations were based on the roundabout lanes being 3.5 metres wide, whereas his design allowed for them to be 3.2m wide.

But if the agency's lane width was to be accepted then land would have to be taken away from the Nouvo complex.

However, the apartment buildings were set back from the property boundary, meaning the necessary land could be acquired.

"I don't see that as being a preventative application for Brreo at this level of design," Mr Reid said.

Mr Cameron said a significant area of land would also need to be acquired on Dufferin St, which would affect St Mark's Church School.

But Mr Reid said he had met with the school and felt they may be open to the idea of altering the car parking arrangement outside. "That may not be a sensitive issue."

A four-member board of inquiry is deciding whether the proposed $90m flyover should get resource consent. The two-month hearing is into its sixth week.

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TRUMP CARD

Critics of the Basin Reserve flyover have played their trump card in the fight to stop the proposal going ahead.

The Mt Victoria Residents Association revealed details of its alternative plan, the Basin Reserve Roundabout Enhancement Option (Brreo), at the flyover board of inquiry hearing yesterday.

The plan involves widening the roundabout to a minimum of three lanes for north to south and east to west travel.

Designed by architect Richard Reid, Brreo is a more refined version of his Option RR proposal, which Wellington City Council spent $40,000 investigating last year. He claims it is a superior congestion solution to the $90 million flyover, 20 metres north of the Basin Reserve, proposed by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

However, transport experts for the agency and the council say it provides little improvement.

Mr Reid said yesterday the agency had not been thorough in its planning. It discounted an enhancement of the roundabout early on and did not properly revisit the idea after the Government decided to convert Buckle St into a tunnel in 2012.

That decision is crucial to Save the Basin's case because it is thought the tunnel, which the flyover will connect to, will actually remove much of the congestion shortening the morning rush hour journey by six minutes. By contrast, the flyover is expected to only save motorists 90 seconds.

Most of the issues would be solved by the underpass and a second Mt Victoria Tunnel, Mr Reid said. The Brreo plan would add about 1km of extra lane space to the state highway between Paterson St and Karo Drive, he added.

"The state highway corridor can now be accessed from every lane on the roundabout . . . traffic does not need to change lanes to access the underpass."

NZTA transportation expert David Dunlop described Brreo as a "minor patch" on the existing layout. It would save motorists even less time than the flyover, and its minor improvements for traffic and freight would come at a cost to other modes of transport, he said.

Mr Reid said yesterday that he disagreed with some of Mr Dunlop's traffic assessment.

HOW BRREO WILL CHANGE THE ROUNDABOUT

* It will be a minimum of three lanes for north to south and east to west travel.

* The Rugby St intersection will increase from four to five lanes.

* Traffic signals at Paterson St and Rugby St will be linked to give highway traffic exiting the Mt Victoria Tunnel a run of green lights.

* The footpath along Sussex St will be widened.

* Paterson St will be realigned with the centre of the Basin.

* The southwest corner of the ground will be "smoothed out" so all lanes are 3.2m wide..

THE DOWNSIDE
* 52 car parks from Kent Tce, Ellice St, Rugby St and Sussex St will go, compared to 12 for the flyover.

* A small amount of land at the south-west corner of the cricket ground will have to go, as will the Duckworth-Lewis Hotel on the corner of Adelaide Rd and Rugby St.

* The existing bus stop and car park arrangement outside St Mark's Church School will go in order to provide a third lane on Dufferin St.

- The Dominion Post

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