It really is quite extraordinary how narrow-minded Government departments can be. And how an answer can be staring someone in the face. The Prime Minster is quoted today as saying:
“We need to find a solution. My understanding was historically was the flyover was deemed to be by far the best solution at the most affordable price,”
“Options of tunnelling, for instance, weren’t as realistic as some people would argue because I guess you can do anything but it was a tremendous cost and quite technically difficult to do.
“So if it’s not a flyover, I guess the question is what’s the next alternative and how easily can it be funded and how quickly can it occur? I just don’t have answers to it at the moment.”
“But I mean overall, our view has been we need to have a response to the traffic issues that Wellington faces. We can’t just sit there with no solution.”
Either he really hasn’t been briefed properly by his department (I acknowledge that he is a little too busy to have read all the transcripts of the Inquiry and now the Appeal decision), or perhaps NZTA just doesn’t want to listen, but there are two alternatives ready and waiting.
Richard Reid and Associates plan, called the BBRREO, can be implemented tomorrow, at virtually zero cost. It was discussed at length during the Basin Bridge inquiry, and you know what? Richard Reid was right. The current congestion can be substantially eased by some careful and subtle reworking of the painted lines on the road. I know that sounds way too easy to be a solution, but it was generally agreed that it would work as a solution for the current traffic problems, and for the projected problems for the next 4-10 years. It requires subtle improvements like a proper two lanes turning left from the Basin into Adelaide Road, instead of the present debacle of one lane and an awkward half lane leading nowhere. It requires some reworking of the entrance / drop off zone for the buses at the Schools, but Reid has worked that one out as well. The guy’s a genius at tweaking road space out of nothing – and if it can help improve the roading for next to nothing, then so be it: Let’s do it. Now.
The other option, obviously, is something like Option X, the design that was proposed by the Architectural Centre, who are the real reason this bridge to nowhere has collapsed. While X has been stuffed to a certain extent by the current Arras Tunnel layout, it can probably still work. In principle, the answer is still the same: instead of a flyover going 300m above ground, a shorter tunnel going under will obviously work just as well. Start planning it now.
So, there are two “Plan B” options for the Prime Minster right now. Do one now, save one for later. Done deal, innit?!