The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
November 20, 2008

No Fly Zone

The Basin Reserve: do you want Flyovers with that?

basin_over.jpg

I can’t believe that people are seriously thinking about this awful proposal. There is a meeting next week to organise a group against this throwback to the 1950s, at St Joseph’s church, on 25th November. Read more about it here. Meantime, those that are in favour (hands up Mayor Kerry and the Transit crew), should ponder this: Newmarket viaduct in Auckland has been transporting cars overhead since 1965, and is about to be enlarged via a total rebuilding, at massive cost, to achieve a single extra lane.

newmarket.jpg

 

Recently the bridge has come under criticism about the fact that debris flies off the viaduct to busy Newmarket below, seismic susceptibility and that the bridge has been separating in sections to create wide gaps.

Hmm, not so good then. A mere 40 years on, its chocka, and falling down.

newmarket_under.jpg

It’s also worth considering the Victoria Park Viaduct, which, like the proposed Basin Reserve Viaduct, cuts right across the Park. Again, there are problems with the viaduct, and it is being proposed to be ‘undergrounded’ – over time, with part now, and part in another lifetime. Again with a relevant quote:

The Victoria Viaduct comes under criticism because of how ugly it looks, the lack of stopping space, its traffic capacity and its safety. Numerous accidents have happened; such as vehicles driving through the barriers and into Victoria Park below and the risk of a single crash causing Auckland’s motorway system to turn to chaos.

Hmmm, so again: perhaps these overhead motorways are not such a good idea. Apart from the fact that they create noise, rip the city in two, ruin historic reserves set in basins, etc, they also look ugly as sin and: things fall off. Like trucks.

newmarket_off.jpg

If the city is really going to do a flyover, then it needs to get a decent bridge designer in, perhaps like Calatrava or the french engineers of the Millau Viaduct, and ensure there are some really good side barriers built in.

millau_edge.jpg

However, there really is no need to build a flyover, when an underground route below the basin would be simply achieved, and less obstructive for the city. Or the simplest answer of all: no more roads. It really doesn’t solve anything. Last picture today, is of another popular public figure with a penchant for road-building: turning the first sod.

autobahn1.jpg

concerned
20 - 11 - 08

Gee, Godwin’s law in one post, great.

Look if you don’t like what is proposed fine, but to allude that building roads is akin to Nazism is beyond the pale and not what I had come to to expect from a supposedly civilised blog.

-but hey it’s your blog and you can write what you like, but this post has lost you at least one reader.

Seamonkey Madness
20 - 11 - 08

Yes, but look what a legacy the Autobahn system has left.

In all fairness, I agree with the undregrounding option. Or maybe even a trench-style option such as with the inner-city bypass. Although, a cut and cover tunnel would reduce background traffic noise as not to interrupt a batsmen’s concentration while at the wicket. =)

Flyover though? Not on your life! I would rather place the road on fill with minimal overbridges rather than leave it up in the air with a repugnant concrete underbelly reminding we, the people, that the inner city landscape has been ruined for the foreseeable future.

Robyn
20 - 11 - 08

For me, the big impact is what it will be like as a pedestrian to walk under such a structure, given that it’s such a high-traffic pedestrian route. With this in mind, it’s interesting to compare the Newmarket and Victoria Park Viaducts.

The Newmarket Viaduct is built in a natural valley, so most of it is quite high above the ground. It does cast a shadow, but because it’s so high above street level, when you’re walking along Broadway, it doesn’t feel like an oppressive, enclosing structure. But upon Gillies Ave (where the above photo was taken from) the Viaduct is only a few metres above the street and it’s a noisy, claustrophobic experience to walk under it as a pedestrian. There’s been an attempt to fancy it up with some public art, but it’s still a gloomy space.

The Victoria Park Viaduct is similarly low and oppressive. The former parkland under it is a barren dusty mess. Walking along that side of Victoria Street is mainly a pleasant walk under the shade of trees, but passing under the viaduct is a strangely frightening experience. The traffic thunders above, trucks ominously rumble along. Not only that, the bridge has become visual shorthand for urban decay – there’s a TV3 promo where John Campbell stands under the viaduct, with the graffitied supports in the background.

And not only that – no one likes the Victoria Park viaduct! There is massive community support for it to be replaced with an underground tunnel. No one in Wellington should consider this as an example of a successful central city overpass. It’s a relic of the ’50s, it’s aged terribly and is a prime example of what *not* to do when needing to sort out traffic in a central city business/residential/recreational area.

I really hope we don’t see the main entrance of the Basin Reserve framed and shadowed by an archway of automobiles.

maximus
20 - 11 - 08

Goodness, ‘Concerned’ you’re taking that allusion far too seriously. Not saying that Nazism = road works at all. Just merely a historical image of the first of the modern highway builders, that’s all, when I was searching for pictures of high level autobahns on viaducts. The autobahns preceded the US motorways, and a long way down the track, we’re still building roads in NZ.

Germany, meanwhile, has moved onto large scale superfast railways, something that we may get to in time as well.

Seamonkey Madness
20 - 11 - 08

Re: railways.
Bzzt, wrong Maximus (sorry to be the half empty-man on this).

Well, at least until NZ takes building it’s rail infrastructure as the primary mode of long distance travel seriously, above roads and air.
There is no way in hell that Kiwirail as it stands now will sink meelions or – more likely – beelions of dollars into removing every single rail crossing from the landscape. Be they major ones like Mackay’s Crossing (which admittedly is now done!) or every single little poxy farmers access to his own land. You cannot take a superfast railway system seriously if you don’t, unless you want a large number of accidents happening – we can’t even get that right at the moment!

That aside, what are the stations that will be used? Wellington and Auckland? What about a midway point – Ohakune? And the extra cost of double tracking to let the normal trains continue on their merry way. Geographically and population-wise, NZ is not big enough (or wide enough) to warrant it and I doubt you would get the passenger numbers to be able to make it financially viable anyway.

Don’t get me wrong – I lurrrrve superfast trains having been on a few while on OE, but NZ just won’t be able to support them.

maximus
20 - 11 - 08

Seamonkey – you’re absolutely right of course – but i’m holding out for high-speed link from Auck to Hamilton within 20 years. That’ll probably be our lot. We’re cursed with an inadequate track width.

Seamonkey Madness
20 - 11 - 08

The Cross-Bombay Hills Rail Link? ;)

A.J.Chesswas
20 - 11 - 08

I find it hard to comprehend that oncoming truck climbing up the flyover, the geometry of the thing is crazy. I imagine there would be problems with undergound infrastructure for going underneath, but surely nothing 21st century engineering can’t solved. Would put it just about below sea level, but there could be Kelly Tarlton type windows with aquariums behind them…

Anyway, why didn’t they drop the inner city bypass underground beneath Willis Street. It’s such a screwed up looking intersection and it doesn’t make sense to me that drunk/stoned Aro valley inhabitants have to cross a motorway to get home from town…

rondo
20 - 11 - 08

I think that the picture from a Council (or Transit?) “artist” is an attempt at a stick-on structural “make it look pretty” solution, which is just going to show that they are not trained in Engineering. Agreed with Cheesewad: inner city bypass is a disaster for pedestrians…

greenwelly
20 - 11 - 08

Chesswas, the truck you talk of is coming round the Basin is not going to go up the ramp. there is no ramp there. The “hump bridge” is purely for effect, the flyover is at the even horizontal height that crosses the image.

If they are serious about the light rail then one of the requirements should be to run it straight under the basin as a cut and cover tunnel( at minimal cost) I mean it is an open piece of land, (the cricket pitch will grow back), but having is split to go up and round seems daft.

electric
20 - 11 - 08

It’s not all that bad, but it will be way more dominating than that- earthquake codes mean the bridge will be a stumpy monster of a thing. At least the extension of the urban motorway right through to the airport will be a nice make-work scheme for the masses of soon-to-be unemployed, assuming Key is as serious about infrastructure projects as the bloke above.

As a trade-off for this flyover, maybe Transit & the council could build the Mt Cook section of the road in a cut and cover tunnel, and create a decent size park on top in front of the War memorial. That would be fantastic.

Light rail- yeah right. Oil prices will be through the floor shortly as demand crashes worldwide. There’s probably about 10-20 years of relatively cheap oil left- but only 75% of workers will have jobs! Buy that Commodore now.

KLK
20 - 11 - 08

I read somwehere of the plans, released by John Morrison, to build a new stand at the Basin to block out the view of the proposed flyover.

Does this mean its more done-and-dusted than we think?

Will de Cleene
20 - 11 - 08

Ever wondered why it’s called the Basin Reserve? It used to be a swamp. You want to build a tunnel in a swamp, below sea level. You’ll have to have at least one more 1888-style earthquake before a subterranean bypass can be built there.

I’m for the flyover. Anything to reduce traffic on the ground level. With a bit of a re-designing, you could remould the entrance to the reserve by making the road supports into a set of stumps.

Gruffalo
20 - 11 - 08

Goodness, Maximus, that was a slippery response to ‘Concerned’. Using the old nazi insult to argue one’s case (eg libertarians talking about eco-nazis and feminazis) is just weak.

davidp
20 - 11 - 08

Max>Germany, meanwhile, has moved onto large scale superfast railways

The Folkestone to London high speed link cost $15billion for 100km. Presumably not including the trains.

So we could have an Auckland to Wellington high speed railway for a paltry $90billion, plus maybe another billion for the trains. Except Kent is sort of flat, while NZ is sort of hilly. So add on a bit for a large number of really long tunnels.

I’m REALLY hoping that you’re not the new Minister of Infrastructure using an alias.

Oh, and Hitler was a vegetarian. Can we be sure that it wasn’t vegetables that turned him mad and made him invade Poland? Surely the precautionary principle must apply here.

Maximus
21 - 11 - 08

Some back info I should probably have included is that the ‘flyover’ is for the West bound traffic only ie those eventually going North, to stop them having to drive round the Basin at ground level. This will free up the Basin more for Adelaide to Kent traffic, as well as continuing to take the East / Southbound traffic through Mt Vic tunnel. So its quite a narrow bridge, one way only, and certainly not as wide as those pictures of Newmarket Viaduct I so naughtily slipped in there along with some other naughty images (not to self – no more blogging after midnight – no more pictures of well-known vegetarians).

So in theory, the new overpass takes the traffic going one way, while the traffic going the other way merrily sails through with no congestion, and we’re all happy. But there are other things and people involved here: like pedestrians, cricketers, wellingtonians. The laws of traffic seem to dictate that as soon as you create some space on the roads, the traffic expands to take the space available. So the atmosphere on the ground stays just as bad, and meantime there is a giant concrete beam with cars and trucks zipping at high level across the sunny side of the Basin. Actually, they won’t be zipping – they’ll still be stuck there because of the lights at Willis and Victoria on the incredibly badly planned Inner City Bypass. So they won’t be going faster either.

All up, $35 to $50 million spent, and no return for anyone, except now the city looks worse than before. So to block off the view of the road, we build another grandstand.

I dunno: it just all seems so badly planned out and poorly thought through – probably because they are using a plan from 45 years ago. What we need is a really good Minister of Infrastructure…

erentz
21 - 11 - 08

I’ll be at the meeting, it’s going to be interesting to see what people have to say.

I’m particularly amazed at how quickly this seems to have progressed to a certainty, how does it just get pushed through so easily? What about firming up the plans for widening Adelaide Road first? For the promised public transport corridor? Call me a cynic but with the way the N2A submissions were *completely ignored* I have a hard time believing much can be done about this.

What is the plan for the future of the Basin Reserve and that area in the long term anyway? So many questions not yet answered. But they’re going to allow a bridge to be built anyway.

Good one WCC.

rondo
21 - 11 - 08

“this seems to have progressed to a certainty, how does it just get pushed through so easily?”

Cos the Mayor says it will happen, that’s how. She’s road mad (road rage?)

Actually, its not just her of course – Transit, or whatever they call themselves nowadays, has been given the mandate to push it mad keen as well. Because it is State Highway 1, it is designated a National road – not a local (ie WCC road). But it sure helps having a pro-road local mayor like Kerry…

LX
24 - 11 - 08

This flyover follows in a great tradition of do it cheap, do it half baked and be sure that it is ugly as hell and at capacity as soon as it opens.

This a case where a totally different approach is needed.

With the current plan people living in the suburbs, driving accross town, get a minimum cost transport improvement with no regard to the cost it has on the local environment for inner city residents. Just look at Karo Drive slashed through the urban fabric.

So mobility comes at a cost. Well lets shift that cost to where it belongs. Build a damn tunnel linking the motorway under the Basin and under the current Mt Vic Tunnel (bored tunnels are nothing new, yes in swamps and eathquake prone terrain).

Yes it costs a truckload more. Charge those using it the cost of borrowing the money to build it. Then they can “zip” from Seatoun to Kawharawhara without congestion, for a price. And if they are not prepared to pay the cost of building a decent road then they can damn well shut the fcuk up and leave my neighbourhood alone.

Seamonkey Madness
25 - 11 - 08

The problem with charging a toll for a road is there has to be a measurable difference in the time it takes between points on the roads that are and are not charged. For such a small distance, everyone would be willing to forsak even a dollar to take the “long” way around the Basin instead of under it.

Maximus
25 - 11 - 08

I didn’t manage to make the meeting tonight Against the Flyover – anyone who went along like to make a comment or add a commentary?

Bit sad and weird that Council members haven’t commented on this post like they have with the other one. What’s with that? I thought we were getting somewhere with the dialogue thing?

arthur
25 - 11 - 08

You may like to check out: http://www.savethebasin.org.nz/?q=node/38

and http://mtvictoria.org.nz/?q=node/2

Moorglade
26 - 11 - 08

anyone who went along like to make a comment or add a commentary?

I’ve put up a brief summary – I didn’t take any notes though, so there were several well made points that I’ve forgotten!

Bit sad and weird that Council members haven’t commented on this post

There were several council members there, but only the ones against the proposal. I would have liked to hear from some that voted for this – both to hear their arguments and try to understand them, and to give them a chance to hear ours and find out why they’ve ignored so many submissions. And I agree, it would be nice to see them engaging in dialogue here, in a public forum.

Moorglade
26 - 11 - 08

Stuffed the link, it should be http://moorglade.wordpress.com/2008/11/26/save-the-basin-summary/

Ben
26 - 11 - 08

If the concept picture above is accurate then I think they should start now.
Firstly, give us some of those electric trams all over the city. Once that’s done ask the rate payers if we still want a shitty flyover.

inhabitant
26 - 11 - 08

Maximus, nice use of the images to create an atmosphere of fear…

all those trucks picked up by the wind and deposited on families enjoying the cricket and children walking to school I would imagine it could be a possible terrorist target as well, maybe the US and can be persuaded to join the fight against the construction.

But why oh why is the Council doing this? Who really wants it?

Flyovers are ugly… always

Time saved by the new route will be minimal and not cost justified … would you pay a toll to use it??

So people will get to the airport 5 minutes earlier….

Thats probably all the tourists desperate to leave and escape the increasing proliferation of bland buildings in the central city that are held in place by the belt of the city by-pass seemingly squeezing more into less until the city is forced ever upwards with street levels reserved for cars.

There is not a traffic problem in Wellington that wouldnt be improved by significantly cheaper alternatives such as investments in joined up public transport system and a little bit of pressure on drivers so that they question why use the car and how often.

For those travelling into the city how about a decent park and ride scheme on Aotea Quay for city commuters or for air travellers maybe an Airport transfer point at Kaiwharwhara.

erentz
26 - 11 - 08

I don’t really have much in the way of notes from the meeting share. But I’ve been thinking about it since.

I don’t think it is unfair to say that it is a fait accompli that this money will be spent on roads. I would love to see this money spent on improving our dismal public transport, or improving walking and cycling. But opposing roading projects is very hard. Think back to the (unfortunate) failure to stop the bypass, the phenominal way that PT and consultation was ignored in the N2A study, and the simple fact that at the moment transport funding is geared towards roads. That last one is a bigger fight that will take longer.

I would rather see $50m spent in Wellington than not.

As it stands the proposed fly over has no benefits other than possibly improving travel times by a 50 seconds. In fact, in order to really be beneficial it requires the completion of another tunnel, and other such works.

Outside of traffic, there are absolutely no benefits, in fact numerous negative impacts to the urban environment and the Basin Reserve. However, there are other roading projects which have benefits beyond just moving cars.

In particular what I’m thinking of is burying Buckle St under the future memorial park which also has $10m in funding. Dig a trench for 4-lanes, and as part of the memorial park design a cover for it. Intersections at the Basin Reserve would be at-grade. 4-lanes of 2-way traffic would run down to Cambridge/Kent and up into the tunnel. The 2-way traffic from Taranaki St would cross around the western side of the Basin Reserve. Benefits (beyond the travel time improvments):

1) Allows memorial park to be free of the 30,000 vehicles that otherwise will cross it. This is naturally more deserving for a park that contains our national memorials.

Someone at the talk mentioned something about National Roads of Significance, and fast track spending, and if the road through our national memorial park is not a national road of significance I’m not sure what is.

2) The south-east corner of the Basin Reserve (where the schools are) would become pretty much car free, just pick ups and drop offs.

3) Removes traffic from Kent Tce, allowing more room for a future linear park and public transport (perhaps Light rail) right of way.

4) Stops the basin from being a round-about race track for boy racers.

5) Removes traffic from Vivian St between Taranaki and Cambridge. Allows this section of Vivian St to be reverted to 2-way traffic. This further removes traffic from Courtenay Plc, which would help the battle to close courtenay place.

6) I think if the sums were done it would still improve flow as much as the fly over would. Anyone here a traffic planner?

7) Positions for the bypass to be buried one day if a future generation wanted to do it. (May seem an abhorrent suggestion to some.)

8) Avoids the whole problem of shifting Buckle St closer to MT Cook School, and the associated polution affects on the children.

Downside: Increased southbound traffic on Taranaki St between Vivian and Buckle.

So I’m wondering what people think, and if it wouldn’t be more constructive to try sway opinion to spending the money on something like this rather than the fly over. I know to many the fact that it is spending money on roads is itself the problem, but if you accept that changing the transport funding is not going to happen fast enough, and you can see the opportunity for having a project that improves the urban environment rather than destroys it…

Anyway thoughts appreciated.

LX
26 - 11 - 08

erentz, yes that really is the way we need to be looking at this. How to transform arterial roads into something that work for the inner city and not against it.

We have existing crappy arterial routes cutting through Te Aro, crappy for traffic and crappy urban design. Politically I just can’t see them ever being removed. But I can see a good argument that if money is being invested into them then do it in a way that enhances, not degrades the quality of the central city.

There are great examples of pre-war arterial roads around the world that are attractive parts of their urban fabric. Think of some of the old tree lined Avenues in Melbourne, or the great Avenues in Paris (which were chopped through the old medieval city). The modern issue seems to be the gulf between traffic engineering and urban design.

While I opposed the construction and Karo Drive, if a new surface road really had to be built then it could have been done so much better. A new urban boulevard created, integrated with the urban fabric, not just brutally hacked through it. However that means having to deal with the road as part of the fabric of the city with all the land use and urban form that makes for a successful living city street.

So yes I am totally convinced we could do a whole lot better around the basin without the need for a pig ugly flyover.

richard maclean
26 - 11 - 08

Greetings folks – I’m not sure if I’m breaking blog rules by dumping a news release on as a comment, but this is what WCC, GWRC and the NZ Transport Agency have fired out to the mainstream media this afternoon as a Basin debate contribution.

…Responding to recent comments from people concerned about the perceived impacts of proposed roading improvements around Wellington’s Basin Reserve, representatives from Greater Wellington Regional Council, Wellington City Council and NZ Transport Agency say proposals for change are not finalised and the community will get its chance to comment when planned consultation is held in 2009.

Greater Wellington Regional Council Transport Policy and Strategy Manager Jane Davis says she appreciates these people are passionate about retaining the Basin Reserve, but they are two-steps ahead of where plans are at.

“We are only just starting to consider what we could do to the road around the Basin Reserve, specifically looking at how we improve public transport connectivity across the city and revitalise the district. Our plans include the potential to create a ‘grand entrance’ to the sports ground pulling together our core aim of strengthening public transport, walking and cycling options around the city.”

Ms Davis says in order to achieve this vision for Wellington the Basin Reserve road needs to be reconfigured. This means improving the layout around the Basin to separate east-west and north-south traffic flows and provide better flow for buses along Kent/Cambridge Terraces and Adelaide Road.

This concept for the Basin was included in full consultation on the draft Ngauranga to Airport Plan, a concept which received 67% support in a public survey carried out by independent researchers.

Greg Campbell, Wellington City Council’s acting Urban Development and Transport Director, says a proposed flyover outside the Basin would “massively cut” traffic congestion around the ground and improve the flow of public transport to and from the southern and eastern suburbs, which is at the heart of the corridor plan.

Mr Campbell rejects suggestions that traffic improvements around the Basin would put the ground at risk.

“The City Council and the Basin Reserve Trust are guardians of this internationally-renowned ground. We’re collectively working to ensure the solution for the Basin retains the look and feel of this fantastic venue. We’re involving our best urban designers to help develop creative solutions that will integrate into the fabric of the city.”

NZTA Wellington Regional Director Deborah Hume says that in order to provide better passenger transport facilities in the city, more space needs to be made available, which would have flow on effects for improving walking and cycling opportunities as well.

“We appreciate that this group are keen to have their say on this issue, but we are yet to have public consultation on options for the Basin Reserve. By all means, give us your point of view, but let us have a two-way conversation about this when we have finalised options to consider in the New Year.”

Ms Hume says she is aware some artists’ impressions have been prepared depicting one view of what a flyover could look like at the northern end of the Basin Reserve. She was quick to point out that these sketches would not meet the standards of the three organisations looking at these changes.

“The graphics are an interesting interpretation but not reflective of what we would consider. This type of structure would certainly not meet our design expectations and we will make it clear to whomever we do employ to design the chosen options for the road that they must be sympathetic with the surrounding area, the Basin sports ground in particular.”

Maximus
26 - 11 - 08

Richard – no problem at all, the blog is a public forum. Thanks for the posting.

As you can tell by the amount of interest, and the public meeting last night, and setting up of a Save the Basin group, etc, this is an area that people within this city feel very strongly about. No doubt there are many people sitting in cars at a traffic snarl-up around the Basin who would love to see a solution go ahead as fast as possible, while there are definitely others such as the members at the meeting last night according to Moorglade http://moorglade.wordpress.com/2008/11/26/save-the-basin-summary/ who are passionately against the concept already.

So: what to do? Well the promise of future consultation is excellent, but from the results of past consultations that may have been less than successful, then Deborah Hume, Greg Campbell, and Jane Davis may have to excuse us if we try to get some pointers in first. There is still massive resentment to the botched job that was the Bypass, and a fear that more may happen again. There is also a resentment on spending money (whether ratepayers or taxpayers, in the end it comes out of all of our pockets) on a transport solution for a mode of transport that some perceive as being on a very short time span with the whole peak oil / peak energy / peak damn-well-everything-we-have-to-slow-down-now-folks scenario.

Personally, and I know what I say won’t be popular with some of the greener, more bicycular members of the public, but I’m quite keen on building a new tunnel through Mt Vic – for God’s sake, the last one was built in 1931 when there were 3 million fewer people, and probably 3 million fewer cars in the country. Tunnels aren’t hard – if they could dig one then with pickaxes and steam shovels and horse drawn drays, through the rotten rock of Wellington’s twisted geography, then we can do it again now, and a damn sight easier too with a modern TBM (tunnel boring machine). The air in Mt Vic tunnel is fetid and awful for cyclists and pedestrians, and we need a better solution – plus there are ridiculous traffic jams each way every single day. Something definitely needs to be done.

But what we need to make sure is that the right thing is done. Greg Campbell notes that a flyover would “massively cut congestion” – although it flat out won’t unless the second tunnel is built. We here at Eye of the Fish would also like to note that a similar fantastic cut in congestion was promised with the Bypass – and most in Wellington would agree that it has not been a success at all. Transit still haven’t released their internal audit on whether it has worked or not, but from the congestion I see every day between Brooklyn to City traffic (ie N-S) vs Bypass traffic (ie E-W) it seems clear that the wrong solution was backed by Transit. A continuation underground of the East-West traffic by one or two streets more (ie under Willis and arguably under Victoria too) would have had a massively beneficial effect on vehicular traffic movements, but the pedestrian strategy would also have to have changed.

I look forward to seeing some intelligent, creative, and modern responses to the traffic problem, and not just a tired old re-trotting out of De Leuw Cathers 1963 scheme proposals.

One way to do this may be to make sure that pedestrians are considered First, not as a last minute tag on after Cars.

LX
27 - 11 - 08

Maximus, actually the De Leuw Cathers 1963 scheme at least had some vision. If I recall it also included an underground extenion of the rail network through the city to a station near Courtenay Place. They recognised even back then that public transport was an essential part of the transport mix, needing more than a few painted bus lanes.

richard maclean
13 - 12 - 08

Maximus – one news release from the Mayor’s Office for your delectation:

‘Enclosed’ Basin Reserve flyover an option

Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast says the option of a raised road to separate traffic heading around the Basin Reserve appears to be the best of a number of early options being considered to streamline public transport and cross-town traffic.

While planning is still very much in the early stages, Mayor Prendergast says she wants and expects to see the project progress quickly. “This project is absolutely critical to Wellington’s future. We need to free up traffic flow to and from key sites around the city, and make this junction easier to use for other road-users such as walkers and cyclists, too.”

Mayor Prendergast says the three parties involved in the project – Wellington City Council, the New Zealand Transport Agency and Greater Wellington – agreed this is a high priority for the region, as part of the recent Ngauranga-Airport Transport Study.

“We have a major – and growing – airport that relies on ease of access, so from an economic development point of view, we simply cannot delay. Other important regional sites such as the hospital also rely on us getting this right.

“Doing nothing about our growing traffic problems and public transport bottleneck at the Basin Reserve is not an option.”

Mayor Prendergast says that, contrary to recent media reports, there is a great deal of support for the flyover option. “I’m hearing a lot of support from the business sector, and the Ngauranga-Airport Transport Study included a public survey that found 67% of people supported a flyover adjacent to the Basin.”

Mayor Prendergast says one of the ‘bottom-line’ agreements between Greater Wellington Regional Council, the City Council and the NZ Transport Agency is that the ambience and relative tranquility of the Basin Reserve will not be compromised by any changes to the road.

“That’s why we’re looking at ideas such as enclosing the flyover within buildings and other structures. Such an approach would be aimed at removing visual and noise impacts.

“But it is very early days in terms of design concepts – and all sorts of ideas are up for grabs and being discussed.”

In conjunction with the Basin Reserve Trust, the City Council is a guardian of the Basin Reserve and, as such, would not be party to any work around the ground that would ruin its status as one of the world’s oldest and best cricket venues.

The problem with the Basin is that it is already at the centre of one of the world’s largest traffic roundabouts. Apart from the meeting of State Highways 1 and 2 at the foot of the Ngauranga Gorge, it is the region’s busiest traffic junction. However, unlike the Ngauranga Gorge, the Basin roundabout is also on the main bus route serving the city’s southern and eastern suburbs and has to also accommodate cyclists, pedestrians, cricket fans and the Basin’s neighbours – including three schools and Government House.

Mayor Prendergast says there is no option of going underground, so the remaining options are a series of ‘at-grade’ possibilities that would keep the road junction at ground-level, or some raised-road options.

“Our early studies of the pros and cons of different options leads us to a flyover or raised road as the best option. It would have far less impact on the area than a ground-level junction.

“The engineers and urban designers say a ground-level junction designed to accommodate increased traffic flows, while at the same time speeding up public transport around the Basin, would blight the neighbourhood terribly.

“It would turn the area to the north of the Basin into one very large, complicated, traffic intersection with multiple sets of traffic lights. It would be very difficult to make it work for traffic, public transport, cyclists and pedestrians.

“It would turn an area that’s already dominated by traffic into something far worse – certainly not a suitable northern entranceway to the Basin.”

A flyover, on the other hand, would carry westbound traffic from the Mt Victoria tunnel over the traffic heading to and from Adelaide Road and the southern suburbs. It would remove the ‘choke point’ around the Basin and make movement far easier for public transport, cyclists and pedestrians heading north and south.

It would also more effectively leave open the possibility that, in the future, light-rail tracks could be installed on the north-south route without the problem of trains having to cross State Highway 1 – the city’s principal east-west route.

Mayor Prendergast says that despite the installation of traffic lights around the Basin, traffic congestion is steadily worsening, especially during rush-hours midweek and during the day at weekends. The conflict between State Highway 1 traffic heading to and from the Mt Victoria Tunnel, and traffic heading to and from the southern suburbs, means rush-hour travel is a misery for most – including bus passengers who are caught in the snarl-ups.

The Basin Reserve has been causing headaches for transport planners for decades, because the principal east-west/north-south junction cannot be shifted anywhere else.

The Basin Reserve Trust has indicated that it supports improvements to traffic flow around the ground – including a possible flyover – provided there are adequate design features to mitigate its effects on the ground. It has already been proposed that a third grandstand could be built on the north side of the ground – as much to increase the seating capacity of the Basin as to block any view of a raised roadway.

Mayor Prendergast says she wants to see the Basin project ready to go as soon as possible. Plans are underway to consult with the public in the first half of next year on a number of options.

Maximus
13 - 12 - 08

well the bit i like most out of all of that is:

“But it is very early days in terms of design concepts – and all sorts of ideas are up for grabs and being discussed.”

Let’s hope that is really true.

erentz
18 - 02 - 09

Just catching up, didn’t see this last post from Richard, this bit I disagree with:

““It would turn the area to the north of the Basin into one very large, complicated, traffic intersection with multiple sets of traffic lights. It would be very difficult to make it work for traffic, public transport, cyclists and pedestrians.”

Have they not seen the proposed configuration for the flyover option? All kinds of embankments and dank pedestrian tunnels. The whole northern section becomes a wasteland. Those shops on the corner, and Regional Wines are gone, replaced by a big curvey 2-lane road that dives underneath the 2-lanes of eastbound traffice and 2-lanes of westbound traffic of SH1. (Along with the mentioned ugly pedestrian and cyclist tunnels.)

Wait and see I suppose, but I still think they are being very constrained about this, they’ve essentially decided it has to be a flyover, so now they’re looking at how to do it. If their scope and objectives were larger (say all the way to Taranaki St) they would come up with very different solutions.

And I still haven’t been able to get a straight answer out of the Council about the long term planning surrounding this, their spokesperson has agreed there is none, that the Council is sitting on the fence in terms of strategy, but yet they do this anyway without consideration for what follows. So the real costs down the line may in fact be higher than the 35-50 million.

Also note how all benefits to cyclists, pedestrians, and public transport are *not* the reason for it, just these benefits engineered into it after the fact. Whereas if they started with the aim of improving those three things first, again, they’d possibly end up with something very different.