We’re part of the way through the public “consultation” phase of the NZTA schemes for “improvements” around the Basin Reserve, and so far we’ve only heard one side of the story. For whatever reasons, political, Machiavellian, or incompetence, only the “two options” have been proffered to the public by the roading lobby. That’s a real pity – as I’ve noted already, and which Scoop picked up on, one of these “options” is not really even slightly feasible – and so we have got a fait accomplihere is the official option, take it now and tell us how much you like it.
That’s not consultation, that’s just insultation.

It’s also a bit of a shooting yourself in the foot action, in my ever so humble opinion. By shutting off the other options, and burying them deep in their twenty zillion pages of documentation on this project, they’ve lost the chance to show the public the real truth on what other options are there, and what the reasons were that they are not being pursued. There may be real reasons why it has been presented this way – as it turns out, we have only the one feasible option to discuss, and to look at in the NZTA roadshow of charm and biscuits that has been on at the Basin this weekend.

But in a snub of the nose to the back room traffic boffins at NZTA, a group from the Architectural Centre has put up an alternative to the official scheme, and it seems like a real goer. They hinted on something like this back in February 2010, with a submission to the Council on the 2040 initiative, where a bit of “think different” thinking was evident for the Basin (as well as a wonderful curly roller coaster idea on the Outer Tee). Since then the Arch Centre seems to have been spending a bit of time building up an arsenal of arguments as to why the Basin is special and shouldn’t be treated to an overpass – of which I’d basically agree to the Nth degree.

Curiously, none of the myriad of options that NZTA have shown us that they have explored, seem to have looked at something as outwardly simple as that shown by Arch Centre’s “Option X” – basically that the east-west State Highway should go swooping under the north-south local road. I dunno – seems like a simple, logical thing to do to me. No need for that awful silly aerial highway that we call a “flyover”, and that NZTA are calling (rather optimistically) a “bridge” (note to NZTA – don’t try to be silly – its a flyover, not a bridge, and you know the difference as much as we do).

NZTA have done some sums on Basin options, but they seem to have looked at some rather ridiculously expensive options such as tunneling all the way from Paterson St all the way over to the other side of Taranaki St, through the presumably cluggy awkward mud of the Basin along the way. Such options have been discounted for reasons of Aquatic wildlife as much as Cost. Did you know that the Wellington inner-city waterways are full of eels? No, neither did I. Makes you a little wary of going wading in the reeds in Waitangi Park to look for that lost ball…

Costs are the real reasons though, that NZTA’s tunnel options have been discounted around the Basin. Interestingly, a huge amount of study has been done on the rationale around putting the State Highway underneath the Memorial Park – it seems to have been an accepted part of the design for quite some time, and yet now looks almost totally discounted, despite the Arch Centre’s scheme showing how well the road works when it is underground.

I’ve got a lot more to note on this, but right now I’m having issues posting pictures into this – the new server is playing up – so I’m going to stop there and recommend you go to the Arch Centre site and have a look at their argument.