Option X bridge 'dysfunctional'

Last updated 05:00 26/03/2014
Option X Basin Reserve

BRIDGE TOO FAR: Critics of the Architecture Centre’s Option X proposal for the Basin Reserve say this 21 metre-high ‘‘green bridge’’ would be too tall for pedestrians and cyclists to get over. This computer model shows the bridge from the Basin Reserve’s northern gate, looking towards the Buckle St Tunnel entrance.

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If the congestion solution known as Option X was ever built at the Basin Reserve, pedestrians would need their hiking boots just to cross the road, an urban design expert says.

Architect Megan Wraight, who co-led the Basin Reserve flyover's design team, spent her second day giving evidence at the $90 million project's board of inquiry hearing yesterday.

Almost all of her time was spent defending her lack of enthusiasm for Option X, which has been proposed by the Architecture Centre as a way of avoiding the two-lane highway flyover, 20 metres north of the Basin, that the New Zealand Transport Agency wants to build.

Option X involves widening Sussex St to four lanes so all local traffic can flow west of the Basin.

The Buckle St Underpass would extend underneath, allowing highway traffic to flow at street level north of the cricket ground.

Experts have said Option X could work from a transport perspective. But Ms Wraight said a 21-metre-high "green bridge" between the Basin and the National War Memorial Park was a fatal flaw in its design.

"That's asking people to rise up and over a bridge close to the height of a four- or five-storey building to get where they want to go, and then down again," she said.

"I think those are pretty extreme conditions for the movement of people and cyclists in that area . . . it's a really dysfunctional solution."

But under cross-examination by Architecture Centre lawyer Philip Milne, Ms Wraight admitted her team had not given any thought to removing the green bridge and replacing it with a street-level crossing.

The bridge was just one of a long list of problems with Option X, she said. The Architecture Centre's plan would result in a lot of traffic passing by the northern entrance to the Basin.

Option X also involved landscaping the eastern side of the Basin into a park, which would remove direct access to local schools and Government House.

Mr Milne suggested an underpass, a tunnel portal and a flyover landing area so close to Memorial Park was not the best fit for the heritage area either.

He also questioned Ms Wraight's claim that the proposed shared pedestrian and cycle path that will run alongside the flyover would improve its design.

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- The Dominion Post

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