The Eye of the Fish

July 7, 2011

Other side of the Mountain

Following on from the previous post about the goings on around the Basin, we’re pleased to bring to you some of the plans for the other side of Mt Vic – the flip side of the coin, if you will. The comments about the Basin “improvements” have been mainly negative so far, although in a surprise move, inner city resident Mechaniker came out saying he liked an overpass. Actually, to give NZTA their credit, it is a very tricky junction. There IS no simple answer. Well, actually, there is a simple answer – which is to leave it alone – but if you want to do something else there, then it gets difficult. It could be that for the last two years the boffins at NZTA have been scratching their heads, stirring up little more than dandruff, but I suspect they’ve been having an honest attempt at solving this issue.

We’ve found that there is a massive amount of their back-o-the-envelope head-scratchings available online here (post July2) including costings, and tiny diagrams – we’ll delve into that more, later on in the month, but for now: let’s see what the plans are for Haitaitai.

On the last image of the previous post we had a quick glimpse at the corner of the tunnel exit. Today we pan the old virtual camera down the road a bit to discover the road has grown to a rather large width – is that for real – up to a mammoth six lanes wide?

I’m not quite sure why it really needs to be that wide – currently it is one lane wide each way, and the traffic always moves smoothly along (its choked at either end of course at times), so there is an argument for two lanes each way – but why three? Clearly the new lane can only be looked at as a merge in lane to or from the remnants of the Town Belt, or the Haitaitai road. It’s at an intersection controlled by traffic lights as well – which means, ironically, that traffic is likely to be:
A) safer, with no nasty intersection by the tunnel exit, but also:
B) slower, and
C) more stuck at the lights in Haitaitai

I’m not sure that is really the intention, is it?

There’s a certain shock value in the large swathes of grassed area of the Town Belt being proposed to be stripped away here and built over – the old (existing) road seems to remain mainly as a cycleway and generous footpath. The existing trees that line the Town Belt? Choppped down / chopped up. The Pohutukawa? Gone. That nice old Macrocarpa by the Badminton club? Firewood. The Badminton Courts, you may have noticed, are not just demolished, but have the roads going right through the middle of them – that’s how far the road has moved and widened. You may have an opinion on whether that is a good thing or not…. if so, please tell NZTA your comments. Mechaniker – you still following this? Still happy with the scheme?

Moving on: down in the corner of Wellington Road and Ruahine Street, the world’s most frustrating, tightly turning, wrongly cambered corner intersection has had a change of heart and become a high speed / smooth curved slow bend, and also blossomed to a hefty five lanes wide. But in the middle of this high speed intersection, is another set of traffic lights. Oh dear. Does that mean that it is now beset by the same issues as noted previously? See A, B, and C above.

I mean, yes, it is a problem corner to be sure, and it’s a danger now (there’s always broken glass from crunched headlights on the road), but – is there an alternative? NZTA are not offering us any “options” on this one – but I’m sure there are some. There is the – why do we have an intersection here anyway? option. There is the option of a roundabout, even if small. There is – hush my mouth – even the chance of an overpass. Underpass. I’m just thinking though – five lanes? And demolishing so many houses down the street? Is that really necessary? Is there actually a better way?

And finally here is the bit from down on the old shore line, where the deer and the antelope play. Well, not quite: where the cricketers and schoolboys play. Probably even schoolgirls too. There’s already a four-five lane highway along here: it seems to have got a little bit wider, mainly at the western end. It is a problem corner for traffic at present – have the proposed changes made a difference? Do they do as much for pedestrian movements as for vehicles? Your comments please!

Oh – and just for you Petrol Heads out there, name this car please. First one to reply with the correct answer…. gets a chocolate fish? Gets to tell me where I can buy one of these cars.
No, that’s not me at the wheel – I have fins you know, just like this car!
Yes, I know what it is, just don’t know where they hang out!).

7 - 07 - 11

I’m amazed my comments stood out that greatly but oh well.

That car at the bottom of the post is a 1961 Daimler SP250.

A funny story, my mother moved over here from Canada to marry my dad many moon ago, she remembers in her early years nearly crying when she saw people cutting down a tree. You see in Canada (especially Whitehorse where she lived for a few years) trees grew really slowly. Not so she eventually found out in New Zealand.

I love trees, Silver Birches are my favorite. But I do not view them or movable historic buildings as impediments to progress.

I just have yet to understand why what the NZTA is proposing is so flawed. Perhaps I am naive, perhaps I am too trusting of the NZTA that they have my best interests as a Wellington resident and car driver and foot path walker?

All I know is that Wellington Drive connected to Cobham Drive is fairly sub-par when it comes to major roads and major intersections. I could imagine the residents on the North side would likely be quite happy to get that pedestrian and cycle access way so their properties do not back directly onto SH1.

7 - 07 - 11

I would have called it a Daimler Dart. Once saw one of these burn to the door sills after an innocuous electrical fault.

7 - 07 - 11

mechaniker, congratulations, you win a chocolate Fish – you’re entirely right about the car. If only cars were still this sexy, then even I could drive one.

Starkive – issues with the name in America, where a Dart was already the name of something else – so, SP250 it was. Except in England, where they still called it a Daimler Dart. Yes, that’s what is so fantastic about the car – it has a fibreglass body, so it can’t rust – but burning? Well, that’s one of the downfalls. Anyway: congratulations about the book. Looking forward to the launch party. Send me an invite?

Now – back to “impediments to progress”. I guess that what I’m putting out here is that maybe this isn’t all “progress”. Some may argue that it is a step in the wrong direction. I’m arguing that if the road is meant to be a 50km/hr zone, then why has it been designed to near motorway standards? As a barrier across the communities, this 5-6 lane highway will be a massive blockade to anyone walking, running or cycling, and it blasts through property in a manner that considers only the cars. I’m an advocate of frequent jay-walking – roads are just an impediment to people living in the city – but you can’t jay walk on a 6 lane highway.

7 - 07 - 11

All fish welcome. Although I guess they might get nervous about going downtown on Fridays?

7 - 07 - 11

keep the lemon juice away from me, i’ll be fine…

7 - 07 - 11

I’d go for a longer tunnel that emerged around Wellington Road. I don’t think the current tunnel is up to scratch for vehicle lane width or safety features. I’d leave it for pedestrians and dig two new tunnels on a longer route. The longer tunnels would eliminate the need for widening Ruahine St, eliminate delays at traffic lights, eliminate misery for the people living along Ruahine St, and eliminate years worth of planning hearings and protests.

Oh, and I don’t see what the fuss is about the overbridge at the Basin. The Basin sits in the middle of Wellington’s busiest roundabout so you can hardly consider it to be a wilderness area. If I were NZTA I’d offer to build the cricket people a new stand at that end of the pitch. Not that I think there is any issue some flyover-edge sound screens can’t remedy.

7 - 07 - 11

I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or stratch my head in confusion. That is one hell of a stretch of road. NZTA are really going for it with that part of the scheme. Personally, I would rather crawl along the existing stretch of road at peak time than have to stop-start at traffic lights. But of course it’s all in the name of progress and who wants to be anti-progress?

7 - 07 - 11

I am a little puzzled. Part of the whole argument against a single lane each way, is that when the road widens to 2 lanes, and then narrows back down again, there are merging problems, and thus there are stop starts, and thus the traffic blocks and clogs.
There is therefore an argument that the most smoothly flowing road would be ONLY 2 lanes all the way, each way. Making it 2 to 3 to 2 etc is just going to cause problems, isn’t it?

7 - 07 - 11

I see a Daimler Dart most mornings comign down the Terrace from the University. The driver even seems to be wearing a cheese cutter and cravat. He might be open to an offer as his lack of wardrobe upgrade tells me he has fallen on hard times since the 60s.

7 - 07 - 11

Spencer – your name sounds rather British. Presumably you have a SP250 in the garage? Want to sell it to me?

7 - 07 - 11

insider – perfect! wave your flag at him, and doff your cheese-cutter in return. Tell him that a fish would like to trade…

7 - 07 - 11


If you only have two lanes, what happens when someone wants to turn into the park, Newtown, Hataitai, Kilbirnie, or Evans Bay? Are you saying no intersections the whole way?

7 - 07 - 11

insider – junctions at Goa St and the Velodrome (Haitaitai Park) are currently reaaaaly lightly used. Obviously the Goa St corner will get more widely used, as there will be no chance of Haitians escaping form Taurimu St. But there are lights at those corners – if this was an 80-100km/hr zone, then a lane bleeding in or out may be necessary. But given that it is a standard 50kph corner proposed, and cars will just be simply turning into it, do we really need a bleed lane on both sides of the road, at every intersection?
I’d argue not.
Wellington Road junctions with Kilbirnie Crescent and Evans Bay Parade – a lot more traffic, and closer to the high speed Cobham Drive area.
What i’m guessing / saying is that by having these high speed merge lanes / bleeding lanes, it will encourage the traffic to flow at very fast speeds. We all do it – when a road is constricted, we go slow. When it is wide open and straight ahead, we hoon along. I do. You do. We all do. The road as designed is not very conducive to a neighbourhood – and not at all conducive to pedestrians / cyclists etc. And heck – can you see a high quality, high density, bus lane / light rail route along here? Nope – its road for cars and trucks only, all the way to the other side of the tunnel.

7 - 07 - 11

Just seems callous and like a good waste of money to build a 4-6 lane highway right through the city, when its benefit will only be seen for maybe 3 hours a day during rush hour.

7 - 07 - 11

I often laugh at the bewildered looks on the new-to-welly drivers in their rented Toyota Camrys as the logical, standard issue 4 lane airport road suddenly becomes a goat track with 3 mad hairy free-for-all intersections.

Stoned Kilbirnians dart back across the road to their hovels; Bongo vans full of noisy netballers spill blindly out of the park access road; and pesky Hataitaitians zoom straight out into oncoming tunnel traffic in a desperate search for Moore Wilsons and the organic vege market daaahling. It’s hardly conducive to pedestrians or cyclists with such defying of death.

However as you point out this NZTA road is massive overkill- why not just 4 lane the existing road and chuck some traffic lights in? Why the vast expanse of asphalt and the wanton destruction of (pretty direly placed) housing?

This reminds me all too much of the North Circular…

7 - 07 - 11

– I was more thinking that if you have a green light at goa St and someone going north wants to turn across the traffic into Hataitai, they will block one lane for a whole light sequence, especially when the give way to right law changes. So you go from two through-lanes to one. That’s quite an impact in peak times. a filter lane prevents that. Mybe the answer is to not allow that turn (can’t be too many wanting to do it) and force people to go via Hamilton Rd. I don’t think you could do same for southbound traffic into the park.

– If you think goa intersection is lightly used, have you ever been there on a weekend? All day traffic worse than weekdays.

– wouldn’t any light rail/buses use the dedicated bus tunnel? Why create a new route?

8 - 07 - 11

The wasteland that is currently Ruahine Street will continue to be a wasteland – so no real change there (just a few more lanes). the result is slightly better for the residents on the Eastern side of the ‘express-way’ though.

The real issue for me is the chipping away of Town Belt. At the very least, WCC should commit to replacing the lost land using the funds from the compulsory sale (under the Public Works Act), ensuring that replacement land is contiguous to the Town Belt (preferably in some of the rather ‘thin’ areas of the current Belt.

Friends of the Town Belt have, by web appearances at least, been asleep since 2009 – I’ll be interested to see what they have to say about this part of the scheme…

The impact on Wellington Rd is a whole other issue though. I’ll be sad to see the end of the nice wee block of Jim Beard designed flats at 47(?) Wgtn Road. The flats he designed for the corner of Wgtn Rd and Kilbirnie Cres will also be gone-burger – despite the fact that both flats were sited with a healthy set-back, in accordance with then land designations, in anticipation of these very works (although about half a century ago).

8 - 07 - 11

What are they doing with Wellington Road? This goes way beyond the current designation. I am also confused as to how two extra sets of traffic lights in the middle and at the end of Ruahine Street is actually going to speed up and improve traffic.

As for the poor residence in Haitaitai. How do they get into the tunnels on their doorstep? Do they have to go to Goa Street to backtrack towards the city? Dosen’t this increase the amount of travel rather than decrease it?

This whole proposal causes more questions than any sensible solution.

8 - 07 - 11

Shame about those Jim Beard apartment blocks. I wonder if it would be possible to shift them. Plonk them out at Shelley Bay i reckon

Seamonkey Madness
11 - 07 - 11

Eastie, good point and one that everyone has missed.
That’s a lot of traffic that will have to go the long way around, and probably precisely why Goa St will be turned into a major intersection.

If they still had access to the tunnel, I would have mooted blocking the exit to Goa and make it entry only, with overpasses to turn into Hataitai Park. NZTA can’t have it both ways, with the spouting about congestion and “reducing carbon emissions” while installing traffic lights. » Vote no for both flyover options
12 - 07 - 11

[…] And the changes in Ruahine Street: […]