NZTA confirms Basin Reserve flyover plan
A $90 million flyover has been chosen as the preferred solution to traffic congestion around Wellington's Basin Reserve, with the New Zealand Transport Agency dismissing calls for a tunnel as "impractical, disruptive and expensive".
The agency will now seek resource consent to build its so-called Option A - a one-way east-to-west bridge 20 metres north of the historic cricket ground linking Paterson St (west of Mt Victoria Tunnel) to Buckle St.
The total cost has risen from the $75m first estimated in 2009, partly through inflation but also because a $5m walkway for pedestrians and cyclists has been added to the design.
Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson and Rongotai MP Annette King have released a joint statement against the option this morning saying the option was deeply flawed.
''There are alternatives that need to be revisited that will improve traffic flow without destroying the character of the area. Sadly, NZTA have failed to listen to the concerns of Wellingtonians and have ploughed on with a flawed proposal.''
NZTA Wellington state highways manager Rod James said the decision in favour of Option A came after extensive analysis of public feedback.
But it has not gone down well with Wellington City Council, which wanted to send State Highway 1 traffic underground through either a traditional tunnel or a "cut-and-cover" option.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the council would express its concerns about the environmental and urban design impacts of the flyover.
"This historic precinct is too important to get wrong . . . it's disappointing for the [Transport Agency] to say that the Basin tunnel can't realistically be built," she said.
Mr James said it would be like building a tunnel through a swamp. Because of the hilly terrain, a tunnel would be very steep and construction would have high maintenance costs because of the need for round-the-clock lighting, monitoring and ventilation.
The flyover would be built to withstand a one-in-2500-year earthquake, whereas a tunnel would be much more vulnerable.
The improvements would free bottlenecks, shorten travel times and reduce the impact of SH1 on local traffic and public transport throughout the eastern CBD.
It would take the Basin Reserve roundabout out of the equation for about 25,000 vehicles a day. It would also help to reduce the number of motorists avoiding the Basin Reserve bottleneck by using local roads such as Oriental Bay, which were never intended for commuter traffic.
Option A was preferred to Option B - a flyover 65m north of the Basin - because of its more direct route and fewer property impacts, Mr James said.
Resource consent is likely to be decided by a board of inquiry.
Council transport leader Andy Foster was disappointed that tunnelling had been discounted as too expensive after the Government recently provided additional funding for a cut-and-cover tunnel nearby at Memorial Park.
"I would have thought that it was now actually a more cost-effective option than the flyover."
He also said there were questions around plans between the agency and the Basin Reserve Trust to block out the flyover with a new $11m grandstand.
"Council hasn't been involved in those discussions yet, and unless NZTA is offering to maintain the new stand, guess who ends up saddled with that."
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The Dominion Post