NZTA boss pushes Basin Reserve flyover benefits
A top NZ Transport Agency boss has defended the aims of a proposed flyover near the Basin Reserve.
At a board of inquiry, NZTA Wellington state highways manager Rod James said the project's objectives included boosting the reliability and efficiency of State Highway 1, improved safety and better access to Wellington Airport, Wellington Hospital and the city centre.
The project would also ease congestion, while supporting regional economic growth, he said.
"We see this [area] as a major constraint on the Wellington region and it's overdue for improvement," James said.
A four-member board is considering the agency's resource consent application to build a two-lane flyover, 20 metres north of the Basin Reserve.
The eight-week hearing has entered its fourth day.
Lawyer Philip Milne, representing the Architecture Centre and Newtown Residents Association, questioned how beneficial the project would be if a proposal to duplicate the Mt Victoria tunnel did not go ahead.
He asked why the two proposals were not merged into one project.
"Some people are going to have to through this all again," Milne said.
James said the proposed flyover had significant benefits on its own.
It was not considered possible to wrap the projects together, he said.
Other major projects – Transmission Gully, and the Peka Peka Expressway were considered separately.
Wellington City Council and the Basin Reserve Trust have both said they will support the flyover, but only if the transport agency builds a 65-metre pavilion to completely block it from view inside the ground.
Milne asked James if it was the NZTA's role to build sports facilities.
James said it was able to work towards measures that would lessen the environmental effects of projects.
It was "similar" to building fish passages as mitigation when working on big stormwater projects, he said.
Earlier, a Wellington church near the proposed flyover expressed concern at the possibility of being caught up in its noisy construction.
"The church is a focus for calm contemplation and worship by its parishioners," Wellington barrister Trevor Robinson said.
Representing the St Joseph's Parish of Mt Victoria, Robinson it was the church's view that construction activities should stop during services.
"It is difficult to think of a more noise-sensitive daytime activity than a church."
A loss of car parks and the presence of large machinery on the site were other potential problems.
St Joseph's Church was built less than 10 years ago, after extensive consultation with the then Transit New Zealand, Robinson said.
NZTA now sought to take back some of the land it had transferred to the parish to allow the new church to be built.
"While St Joseph's has had a lengthy and largely cordial consultation with NZTA working through the issues, the church would wish to record that it is disappointed and somewhat aggrieved to be in this position."
NZTA's lawyer Andrew Cameron told the board of inquiry that progress was being made behind the scenes.
It was hoped that the church's concerns would be addressed.
In documents submitted to the board in January, NZTA said noise would affect all properties in the project area but "for the most part" it should be no more than 5 decibels above current levels.
The agency's noise expert, Vincent Dravitzki, said it could be difficult to stick to those levels for the closest properties, including St Joseph's Church.