Tunnels, trenches and road tolls floated as solutions to Wellington's congestion woes
Tunnels, flyovers, removing traffic lanes along the waterfront and slapping a toll on Wellington's CBD are all currently on the table as potential solutions to the capital's congestion problem.
The future of the capital's inner-city transport network has become slightly clearer after a list of possible congestion solutions being considered by transport planners was released to the public under the Official Information Act.
The list reveals that a congestion charge for Wellington's CBD is under consideration, as is the idea of hiking inner-city parking prices to encourage greater use of public transport.
Planners are also pondering whether to convert State Highway 1 into either overpasses or underpasses at the Basin Reserve, Willis St, Victoria St and Taranaki St to separate those parts from the local road network.
* Government accused of playing politics with capital's transport future
* Report lays bare Wellington's transport woes
* Call for CBD road charge grows louder
* Transport project will look like 'talk-fest' unless deadlines set
* Lobby group formed amid fears of another Basin flyover proposal
* Proposed rapid bus route to be reviewed
* Basin Reserve flyover scrapped, costing ratepayers $12m
The idea of completely trenching SH1 through the centre of Wellington - something that was suggested years ago during development of the Inner City Bypass - was also on the table at one point, but has since been ruled out.
The list was prepared by the Let's Get Wellington Moving project team - a collaboration between the New Zealand Transport Agency, Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council.
The initiative was spawned after the Government's failed attempt to build a two-lane highway flyover 20 metres north of the Basin Reserve cricket ground to alleviate the constant traffic jams crippling the roundabout outside its gates.
After considering feedback from more than 10,000 Wellingtonians, the team produced 15 scenarios of how the inner-city transport network could look depending on whether cars, bikes, buses or pedestrians were prioritised.
The scenarios are somewhat conspicuous by what is missing. Several involve the creation of a rapid bus network from the CBD to the southern and eastern suburbs, but none mention the creation of light rail.
Four scenarios involve suppressing car use through road pricing in the form of road tolls and increased parking charges.
A council report in 2015 found that a toll on the CBD would see vehicles trips in and out drop by about four million annually. Tolling the yet-to-be-built Transmission Gully motorway and Petone-Grenada highway north of Wellington would have a more moderate impact.
Several scenarios also involve "de-tuning" the six lanes of traffic along Wellington's waterfront route, for alternative modes of transport.
Let's Get Wellington Moving programme director Barry Mein said the group had already "moved on" from the list of scenarios, which was initially held back from the public to avoid them being misinterpreted as concrete options.
But most of the ideas floated were still on the table at this stage, he said.
A shortlist of scenarios will be put in front of the public in November, with the final solution expected to be decided early next year, Mein said.
He warned there was no pleasing everyone, and there would need to be tradeoffs between different modes of transport.
His team was also modelling how any changes would impact transport users, and also whether a rapid bus route through the central city could be future-proofed for light rail.
Chris Calvi-Freeman, the city council's transport strategy and operations portfolio leader, said he requested light rail be put on the group's agenda, and he was pleased it was being looked at long-term.
"I think we've reached the stage in Wellington where light rail will be necessary to cope with the volumes of commuters if you continue to encourage people out of their cars."
While congestion is bad at the moment, it is expected to get worse with Wellington's population projected to increase by 46,000 by 2043.
New highways such as the Kapiti expressway and the Transmission Gully motorway are also expected to encourage more people to drive into Wellington.
"If people say, 'congestion's bad but it's not that bad', well, in 20 years time when we have another 50,000 people or whatever, then it could be a hell of a lot worse," Let's Get Wellington Moving programme director Barry Mein said.
"That's really what we're talking about here. We're talking about putting investments in place that are going to have to last into the future and deal with the changing circumstance."
SOME OF THE IDEAS
* Duplicating the Mt Victoria and Terrace tunnels
* Separating SH1 from local roads with flyovers/underpasses
* More traffic calming and shared space creation on pedestrian-preferred routes
* Road pricing and increased parking charges
* Reduce traffic lanes to make room for other modes of transport
* Reduce the amount of traffic that can turn on Vivian St
* Create a dedicated rapid bus route and give all other buses intersection priority
* Reduce the inner-city speed limit
* Reallocate some road space to public transport/cycle lanes, or vice versa.
* Increased supply of cycle parking/facilities
* Create a central city cycle network connected to surrounding suburbs
* Create more public spaces and improve weather protection