Option X back on the table

Underpass: The Architectural Centre's plan for the Basin Reserve roading project was realeased in July.
Underpass: The Architectural Centre's plan for the Basin Reserve roading project was realeased in July.

New Zealand Transport Agency is under pressure to rethink its plans for the Taranaki St to Buckle St transport route.

This week, mayor Celia Wade-Brown called for further investigation into the trenching of Buckle St.

The agency has announced its preferred options.

Both involve flyovers – a $75 million option 20 metres north of the Basin Reserve, and a $90m option about 65 metres north.

However, the ground may be changing.

In July the Architecture Centre proposed Option X, which included trenching Buckle St and was budgeted to cost up to $165m.

Andy Foster, who holds the Wellington City Council transport portfolio, said Option X was a good long-term solution.

He said trenching Buckle St would go a long way to improving the route between the Terrace Tunnel and the Basin Reserve.

"One of the attractions of Option X is that you get separation of traffic on Buckle St, Tory St and Taranaki St," Mr Foster said.

"A long-term solution would then be to underground the inner city bypass, which we could do if we got a head start on this now – and there is value in doing that."

Ms Wade-Brown said the council was discussing options for the route and would put forward a submission to the transport agency next week.

"The benefit of Option X is that it is underground, but we need to explore it further," she said.

"We need to look into issues around access for all modes [of transport], issues around cost, issues around urban design."

Ms Wade-Brown said she was yet to see a council report on the options for the roading near the Basin Reserve.

The report was expected to be put up on the council's website on September 29, she said.

The agency has sought public feedback on its proposals and has received about 2000 submissions.

State highways manager Rod James said he appreciated the interest in Option X, but the agency did not favour it in its current form.

"It has some fundamental problems related to safety, its affordability, and how it would work in practice," he said.

"We've raised these concerns with the Architecture Centre and we'll be considering its feedback about how these problems might be addressed."

He said tunnelling under Memorial Park was too expensive at the moment.

"However, we've allowed for flexibility by future-proofing the design of Options A and B to allow for the possibility of a tunnel to be built under Memorial Park in the future."

Mr James said the agency would work with Wellington City and regional councils to develop plans for the area.

Save The Basin Reserve Campaign spokesman Kent Duston said it was encouraging that the council was looking favourably at Option X.

"We have been hoping they would put their weight behind it," he said.

"We hope the transport agency will now go back to the drawing board, and instead of pursuing a 1960s design they take a more innovative approach."

The Wellingtonian