The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
March 24, 2011

High Noon at the Athfield Corral

So: Athfield is taking the issue to the bridge – or, rather, the Ring Road. Issuing a statement like “Either the One Way system goes, or I go” is surely inviting brinksmanship in a battle of nerves down in Christchurch.

We’re still not sure if who or what the rumoured super ChCh anti-EQ Authority is yet, but the NZIA’s much-vaunted Architectural Ambassador looks to be laying tracks for his own escape route. High Noon indeed, when you’re playing a game of chicken with the Traffic Engineers. For years now Christchurch has had its central city defined by the flow of traffic, set by the all powerful traffic department at CCC. Just like the traffic department here in Wellington at the WCC, and presumably like the ACC in Auckland, it’s difficult to win one over the traffic bods. Tedious people that they are, they will keep on insisting that cars come first, second, and third place in importance – pedestrians and cyclists always just a tacked on afterthought. Ath is going head to head to try to change that: whether the people of Canterbury want that or not.

But it is not just Ath who is taking the issue to the people. We have a strange situation in Aotearoa at present – with Len Brown launching a mammoth train set on Auckland (and Don Key / Red Hide looking decidedly glum at the prospect on TV last night), and then Celia W-B looking even more odd by agreeing to a mass of roading projects in the capital, despite standing on a very strong anti-roading package. Just what is happening here?

“Key elements are:
• A duplicate Mt Victoria tunnel, possibly at the end of Paterson St. This project was then estimated to cost $217 million. Ruahine St at the southern end of the tunnel would be turned into a four-lane expressway to the airport.
• Improvements to speed traffic flows at the Basin Reserve. This could include a flyover or tunnel at the northern end of the basin. The estimated cost of this project was $36m.
• A second Terrace Tunnel estimated to cost $150m.”

At ‘Eye of teh Fish’, we’re quite fond of tunnels as a way of getting round the city – and I’m strongly of the opinion that if the Ancient Ones (the builders of Wellington around a hundred years ago) can whack in a few tunnels, then so can we, in our more modern, safer, faster society. While more roads just fill up with traffic, more tunnels really do have the ability to improve life for some people. A second tunnel through Mt Vic for instance, means that it may be possible for pedestrians not to have to share the vilely polluted air or have their ear-drums rent asunder by happily parping car drivers. A second terrace tunnel could mean traffic flowing smoother in an out of the city – although, not while the Inner City Bypass clogs it up a hundred metres away. Fix one problem, and there is always going to be the next choke point to have to resolve…

Kent Duston
24 - 03 - 11

Maximus – You note that “a second tunnel through Mt Vic for instance, means that it may be possible for pedestrians not to have to share the vilely polluted air or have their ear-drums rent asunder by happily parping car drivers.”

In fact that second tunnel has existed since the 1970’s – the pilot tunnel that runs beside Paterson Street could easily and cheaply be re-purposed as a pedestrian/cyclist route, which would in turn allow the road in the main tunnel to be widened. The Mt Vic Resistance (sorry, I mean Residents) Association and a bunch of other people have been pointing this out to the WCC, the GWRC and NZTA for years and years and years, to no avail. It seems that spending any money at all on “mere” pedestrians and cyclists so deeply offends the sensibilities of traffic engineers that they can’t contemplate anything that doesn’t involve throwing every available dollar at car drivers.

Maximus
24 - 03 - 11

Kent – nice to have you along. What IS happening with NZTA? They appear to have died and fallen off the face of the earth as far as Basin v2.0 (or v99.9) is concerned, and not a sausage of word from them re Memorial Park despite piles of earth on site. They deserve a rocket for being the worst communicators in the world – as if shutting their head in a cupboard and hiding away is really going to make it any better for them.

Come on NZTA, front up and start the dialogue ! Or perhaps DonKey is going to save billions in the budget by just cutting their entire department – the whole thing. Now that could save some money…

Yes, you’re right about the tunnel. How tall is it? Perhaps we just go and liberate it one night? If Libya can occupy an entire city, then we should be able to guerrilla swarm it and freedom fight for a single tunnel.

davidp
24 - 03 - 11

All the tooting has to be hell on pedestrians. But I don’t know for sure because there is NO WAY that you’d see me walk through the dark fume filled space. I’d sooner walk up and over.

My theory is that the first motorist who drove through the tunnel in 1826 or whenever it was built tooted their horn. And someone tooted back. And there has been an unbroken chain of toot replies ever since.

Good thing too since tooting your horn in the tunnel is one of the joys of living in Welly. A couple of years ago I was with my Aussie nieces dropping their mum off at the airport after Christmas. They were blubbering and miserable as only pre-teen girls can be. Letting them control the radio helped cheer them up, but the real breakthrough was when I told the older one she was in charge of tooting as we drove through the tunnel. We might have deafened a few pedestrians, but they were much happier when I dropped them off at their grandparents.

Alan
24 - 03 - 11

You’re getting better with the photoshopping, but the job is surely unfinished. You’ve done Ath (nice), and Len, but what about Bob P and Celia? Surely they deserve a bouquet too?

Maximus
25 - 03 - 11

Alan – thanks. No time. Maybe you?
DavidP – there is another theory, that i think has some semi scientific proof – that people toot more on weekends and on sunny days. Grey mid-week days: likely to be quiet. Aussie pre-teen nieces: don’t fit into statistical boundaries…

Kent Duston
25 - 03 - 11

Maximus – There was this statement from the NZTA:

“The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) expects public consultation on options for planned transport improvements around the Basin Reserve to get underway after plans for upgrading the Buckle Street Memorial Park have been decided by Government.”

Oh … and did I mention it was from 29 March last year? Since then we’ve heard nothing from Frank Fernandez, Communications & Stakeholder Liaison Manager at NZTA. I saw his job title as I searched for the old email, and I laughed and laughed and laughed – clearly, being a Communications Manager doesn’t involve any actual, you know, communications. But I have a very concrete suggestion on how to save a bit of money on NZTA’s salary costs if Bill English wants to swing by my place ….

Alan
27 - 03 - 11

While Japan does have quite a few problems to be getting on with at present, including coping with over 20,000 dead, and 4 nuclear reactors overheating, it’s evident that they have one thing that we don’t have in NZ: a good efficient roading department.

Not sure exactly what it says in the Press Release, but the photos tell the story that people of Canterbury would love to hear:
“Japanese engineers fix a destroyed highway in six days”

http://www.e-nexco.co.jp/pressroom/press_release/kanto/h23/0323/
http://dvice.com/archives/2011/03/japanese-engine.php

davidp
27 - 03 - 11

Alan… I was in Collingwood for the Aorere flood just after Christmas. A couple of hundred meters of the road running up the valley to the Heaphy Track was destroyed, with one long section completely washed away and big gaps and lanes missing for the rest. It was a mess. Friends said it was open again about a week later. We can do these things quickly if required.

There is a photo of contractors working on it 2 days after the flood:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/4502708/Bay-residents-begin-big-cleanup