Spectre of second flyover raised

DOUBLE VISION: Architect Richard Reid says building a flyover would set a precedent for a second one. The image has not been given as evidence in the inquiry.
DOUBLE VISION: Architect Richard Reid says building a flyover would set a precedent for a second one. The image has not been given as evidence in the inquiry.

Serious questions have been raised about whether a second Basin Reserve flyover will follow the one currently being proposed, should it get the green light.

Critics of the $90 million project say a second flyover is "inevitable", despite there being no mention of one in documents prepared by the New Zealand Transport Agency to support its case for a westbound flyover, 20 metres north of the Basin.

Experts for the agency have admitted some planning for a second, eastbound, flyover was done in 2010 but say the idea has not "grown any legs".

But the question is clearly weighing on the minds of a four- member board of inquiry charged with deciding whether the westbound flyover should get consent.

Board member David Collins has begun pressing the agency's transport experts on the topic, in a bid to establish how much a possible second flyover should influence their decision.

The issue was raised at the resource consent hearing yesterday by architect Richard Reid, who has proposed a plan on behalf of the Mt Victoria Residents Association to simply widen the existing roundabout instead.

He pointed to a Wellington City Council report on flyover alternatives last year, which noted the council's desire for a "medium to long-term" commitment from the agency to relocate state highway traffic from Vivian St to a "single east- west corridor".

At present, SH1 is split in two across central Wellington. Traffic heading east uses Vivian St and Kent Tce, while traffic heading west uses the Basin roundabout and inner-city bypass.

Mr Reid said the westbound flyover would set a precedent, making it near-impossible to stop construction of an eastbound flyover beside it.

The second flyover would be easier to argue for, given any potential damage to the surrounding heritage area and environment would have already been done.

"The character of the [Basin] area would be changed in a way that could never be remedied or mitigated in the future . . . so to me, the implications of one flyover are very important."

Mr Collins said he also spotted the city council's desire to move SH1. He asked the agency's transport expert, David Dunlop, whether that was "so far ahead that it's beyond our comprehension", or whether the board should be considering it now.

Mr Dunlop was confident the westbound flyover, with other road projects planned for Wellington, would handle the expected increase in traffic post-2031.

The flyover's head developer, Wayne Stewart, told Mr Collins earlier in the hearing that in 2010 he was asked to investigate how the westbound War Memorial Park tunnel, now under construction, could be duplicated for eastbound traffic in the future.

"And we looked at what the implications would be for a second bridge then at the Basin," he said. Some "lines were drawn on a map", but that was about as far as it got.

"There's no aspiration in the planning horizon to contemplate all that."

The Dominion Post