Let's Get Wellington Moving project will look like 'talk-fest' unless deadlines are set - councillor
Wellingtonians will have to wait even longer to hear what's being proposed to solve the city's transport woes, with a major project pushed back several months.
Initially planned for early to mid-2017, then officially set for June or July, the list of "scenarios" being developed by the Let's Get Wellington Moving working group to solve the capital's congestion problems will now not be put to the public for consultation until just before Christmas.
It is yet another setback for frustrated motorists and commuters, who have been waiting on a proposed solution to the city's transport problems between the airport and Ngauranga Gorge since the controversial Basin Reserve flyover, first mooted in 2001, was officially put to bed in 2014.
Greater Wellington regional councillor Ian McKinnon said the project was in danger of looking like a "talk-fest", and called on the working group - a joint initiative between the regional council, Wellington City Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency - to produce a definitive timeline to preserve the project's credibility.
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* Report lays bare Wellington's transport woes
* Wellington drivers average 27kmh during rush hour
* Chronic congestion causes headaches
* Congestion relief coming to Wellington
* Board of inquiry says 'NO' to Basin flyover
* Basin Reserve flyover project killed off by the High Court
* Four years of frustration: Planners admit congestion solution is a long way off
But programme director Barry Mein said the delay was the result of recent community workshops, which brought to light concerns about a lack of information on the proposed solutions' specific impacts, and a lack of commitment to light rail.
As a result, the scenarios would not be ready for public consultation until October or November, he said.
"There were questions around how the solutions would specifically impact on the problems, and that does require a lot of modelling.
"We need to be able to quantify it for people to say: 'This is what this option would like, and this is how it will perform'."
Modelling was complex because changes to one aspect of the network would have effects on others, he said.
The commitment to preserving a route for light rail came about from a recommendation made by a regional council subcommittee back in 2014.
That recommendation came after a Wellington Public Transport Spine Study, completed in 2013, identified bus rapid transit (BRT) as the most feasible way of providing a high-quality transport system through central Wellington.
The sub-committee agreed the corridor should be designed in a way that "does not prohibit the future transport development of the corridor, including for light rail transit".
"We said, 'Look, that's a fair point', and agreed we'll go back and have another look," Mein said.
But McKinnon, who sits on the council's sustainable transport committee, said the proposals would be scrutinised regardless of when they were released, and the public needed confirmation of a project timeline.
"Sorting out the Wellington transport arrangement is a complex task, but if it drags on too long, it starts to look like a talk-fest," he said.
"Eventually, you have to say, 'Here it is, let's get on with it', so people know you've got a timeframe in front of you.
"They've got to let people know when there's going to be an end result."
McKinnon would like to see deadlines set for the release of the scenarios, public consultation period, and selection of the preferred solution.
Mein said the project's governance group will meet on Thursday, with a date to be set for the release of the scenarios shortly afterwards.