Basin flyover inquiry gets under way

23:11, Feb 04 2014

Faster journeys, fewer crashes, more money in Wellington's coffers and a vital link in the wake of a major earthquake are the main reasons the NZ Transport Agency gives for building the Basin Reserve flyover.

The agency was quick to rattle off the benefits it saw in the $90 million project during its opening address on day one of an eight-week board of inquiry hearing.

The agency has applied for resource consent to build a 265 metre-long highway flyover, 20m north of the historic cricket ground, which would link the Mt Victoria Tunnel to Buckle St.

Agency lawyer Andrew Cameron said the flyover would produce benefits for the Wellington region.

It would improve safety by separating state highway traffic from local traffic around the heavily-congested Basin roundabout.

It would also promote economic development by increasing the efficiency of freight movements and by creating jobs during its 28 to 34-month construction period.

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Pedestrians, cyclists and public transport would also benefit from having more room to move around the Basin, he said.

The main benefits were similar to those the agency has attached to the entire Wellington Airport to Levin road of national significance, of which the flyover is a part.

Other sections include the Transmission Gully highway and the Kapiti expressway.

Cameron said one of the main benefits of the entire road of national significance would be to give Wellingtonians a more resilient road out of town if a major earthquake struck.

Earlier, the board heard from architects for the agency Megan Wraight and John Hardwick-Smith, who presented various artist impressions and talked the board through a computer-generated simulation of the flyover.

Inquiry head Judge Gordon Whiting said 130 contested issues needed to be addressed during the hearing.

Some issues overlapped, while others were not relevant or were beyond the board's jurisdiction, he said.

Before the hearing began this morning, Save the Basin spokesman Tim Jones said the board of inquiry process, which required a decision within nine months of being announced, had many flaws.

"That nine-month time frame has meant that submitters, expert witnesses, and the board itself have been placed under extraordinary pressure by unrealistically short deadlines," he said.

"At times, submitters have been given as little as one working day to respond to demands ... for information. That's completely unacceptable."

FLYOVER FACTS

Related: Flyover concerns are valid: report

The Dominion Post