Option X inferior, expert says

Last updated 12:39 02/04/2014
Option X Basin Reserve
NZTA

'INFERIOR' OPTION: A computer model of what the Architecture Centre's Option X would look like from the Basin Reserve's northern gate, looking towards Buckle St. It shows the tunnel entrance and "green" pedestrian and cycle bridge overhead that would link the cricket ground to the National War Memorial Park.

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Yet another urban design expert has winced at the thought of building Option X instead of the Basin Reserve flyover.

Architect Kevin Brewer, who independently assessed the New Zealand Transport Agency's plans for a two-lane flyover 20 metres north of the Basin, said Option X was an inferior alternative.

He made the comment this morning at a board of inquiry hearing for the $90 million flyover.

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.

In reviewing the flyover's urban design plans, Brewer also assessed the agency's comparison of the flyover to Option X.

The large "green bridge" linking the Basin Reserve to the National War Memorial Park that would be built as part of Option X would hinder access to the cricket ground, Brewer said.

"It's a much more convoluted approach than what exists now ... the green bridge is not on the desire line and is a difficult route."

The proposal to transform the southern end of Dufferin St into a park linking Government House to the Basin Reserve was also a terrible idea, Brewer said.

The park's "frontages" were not well designed, making the area potentially unsafe at night.

"Parks don't always equal good. There are good parks and terrible parks."

Three other design experts have given evidence for the transport agency at the flyover hearing thus far and all of them have raised similar concerns with Option X.

Lawyer Philip Milne, acting for the Architecture Centre and Newtown Residents Association, said Brewer was not comparing apples with apples when he assessed the flyover against Option X and a tunnel, because the latter two were only concept drawings.

"You were not carrying out a level playing field comparison when you dealt with Option X."

Brewer acknowledged that was true, but pointed out he had the expertise to look beyond the face-value of Option X's plans.

"I don't need renderings with people walking through and birds in the sky ... I can make judgements about what mitigation was and was not possible."

Milne asked whether it was possible to do away with the green bridge and replace it with a street-level crossing at the southern end of Cambridge Tce.

Brewer said it was possible, but it would still be an "inferior option" to the shared walking and cycling path that will run alongside the flyover, linking the Mt Victoria Tunnel to the National War Memorial Park.

A well-planted urban boulevard along Dufferin St would also be a better option than a park to the east of the Basin, he said.

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- The Dominion Post

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