Main Island Bay road faces closure

JESSICA RAPANA
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2014
The Esplanade
FAIRFAX NZ

MESS: The Esplanade looking towards Island Bay, after Hurricane-force winds battered Wellington last year.

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The Wellingtonian

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A 200-metre stretch of The Esplanade in Island Bay is to be closed for three months from June.

The closure is to allow the Wellington City Council to determine whether that part of the road should close permanently.

Part of the seawall on the beach was badly damaged when a storm lashed the capital last June, leaving the stretch of the Esplanade behind it unprotected from southerly storms.

Council officer, and head of the seawall replacement project, Nicci Wood told the council's environment committee last week the preferred option was to permanently close part of the Esplanade, diverting traffic via Derwent St and either Reef St or Trent St.

The beach area would then be joined to Shorland Park.

That would cost ratepayers about $1.3 million, in addition to costs for consent and diverting traffic, which had not yet been assessed. Reinstating the wall was still an option, and would cost about $950,000.

But while technically feasible, climate change was likely to mean the wall would be more frequently damaged and would require more frequent maintenance, Wood said.

The return period of a similar "energetic storm event" was estimated at more than one in 50 years, but less than one in 100 years, Wood said.

Other options included shifting the seawall and road 20 metres inland, or replacing the sand to create a "sand buffer" for the seawall. Either way, the wall would not disappear completely, because it would remain at the surf club and down the eastern side of the coast.

Island Bay resident Vicki Greco, who attended the meeting, was unhappy with the idea.

House values in Reef St or Trent St would drop as a result of the increased traffic, she said.

But Southern ward Councillor Andrew Lee said it was an opportunity to breathe more life back into the park and the community.

Wood said a decision would be made by the council after further research, including more in-depth cost analysis and public consultation.

- For information and to make comments on the council's plans, visit wellington.govt.nz/islandbayseawall.

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