Flyover ignores topography - expert

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 15:01 14/04/2014

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A flyover around the Basin Reserve doesn't respect Wellington's topography, an urban designer says.

Diane Menzies told the board of inquiry considering the $90 million Basin Flyover proposal that a flyover was outdated and out of scale for the city.

The urban design and landscape architecture expert is giving evidence on behalf of opposition groups The Architecture Centre and Newtown Residents Association.

The NZ Transport Agency wants to build the east-to-west flyover around the Basin Reserve in a bid to separate State Highway 1 traffic from the local roading network.

Menzies this morning told the four-person board, which is sitting for the 43rd day, that while separating the traffic was the aim of the project, she did not agree with that approach because the proposed flyover did not respect the city's topography.

"It's the grade separation that would be my concern as it doesn't, in my view, respect the topography of Wellington."

The main issue was traffic emerging from the Mt Victoria tunnel, she said.

"Instead of then going down into the basin of the valley before you simply go straight ahead as if the hills and valleys didn't exist."

There was a high likelihood that a flyover would end up being a waste of money, because there was a good chance it would have to be torn down in the future when people realised it was not an asset, she suggested.

"Flyovers like the proposal the board's considering are being taken out of cities in other places in the world and they have been seen by local people as out of scale with a city, out of scale with people and if it should happen here it would not be sustainable management."

Menzies also questioned the methods of other urban design experts who have already given evidence to the board, including Gavin Lister, who independently reviewed the flyover's landscape design and urban designer Deyana Popova.

Reassessment of options by Lister needed to be done before other process, such as tendering, began, and Popova may not have put enough weight on the "sensitivity of the area", she said.

However, NZTA lawyer Andrew Cameron questioned her criticisms, which were outlined in her supplementary evidence, given she did not put those concerns to the experts during meetings where witnesses met to discuss areas of contention, or in her evidence in chief.

Menzies said those matters had not come up at that stage, and she was responding to evidence given throughout the hearing so date.

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- The Dominion Post

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