There is a simple reason why Option X did not measure up to the Basin Reserve flyover: its artist impressions were not as pretty.
That was the argument advanced by groups opposed to the planned $90 million flyover at the project's board of inquiry hearing yesterday.
The Architecture Centre believes the New Zealand Transport Agency did not do enough to investigate and develop its alternative to the flyover, known as Option X.
The centre's proposal involved extending the Buckle St tunnel underneath Sussex St, which would be widened to four lanes so all local traffic could flow along the western side of the Basin.
The eastern side would then be landscaped into a park linking Government House to the historic cricket ground.
Architecture Centre lawyer Philip Milne spent much of the day grilling the flyover's lead developer, Wayne Stewart, about the effort his team put into developing Option X, before it was discarded in early 2013.
The agency claimed it could not design Option X to fit the surrounding heritage area. The complex roading layout was difficult to mask with foliage and other objects.
Mr Milne showed the board the 3D modelling of the project and questioned Dr Stewart about whether the agency had done all it could to improve its urban design.
He suggested the agency made only a "cursory" effort to develop Option X because it was already preparing to seek resource consent for a flyover, 20 metres north of the Basin.
Dr Stewart conceded the 3D models were not developed to the same level as the flyover's design, but he was adamant his team had put in a decent effort.
"We went to some lengths to produce a geometric design, we went to some lengths to produce 3D models, albeit not to the same extent as [the flyover] and we employed a number of specialists. I wouldn't call that cursory."
Mr Milne questioned why the agency did not make any effort to tweak Option X, for instance, by having only three lanes to the west of the Basin and retaining a single lane for local traffic to the east.
Dr Stewart said that would negate its "philosophy" of having a park to the east.
The hearing continues today.
- The Dominion Post