OK: so my last post was trying to be all neutral, but I can’t take it any longer. I’m just going to come straight out and say it: we should build a bridge over the speeding cars along Cobham Drive, and we should have fantastic innovative design for the bridge as well. The
NZTA – sorry, LGWM – consultation for this project shows they are back to their old NZTA tricks that they exhibited during the depths of the Basin Bridge debacle, where they gave us, the public, two shitty options of a bridge over the Basin. “Choose this one, it’s less shitty than the other one!” and now they are doing it again – “We don’t want to give you a choice, because we know you’ll choose the other one, so how about this dumb idea – say Yes, please!”.
The problem is, I don’t want NZTA to design the pedestrian bridge. They’re not an organisation known for their flair in design. The end result would be likely to be sullen and objecting, like a grumpy teenager with acne, being asked to put the rubbish out on a rainy Tuesday night. “I don’t want to…!” or “Why does it always have to be me…?!?” or “Why don’t you get Toby to do it, he never does anything…!?!”
No, Wellington needs an exciting vision for a bridge – something that will set hearts on fire and make true the too-often stated but increasingly inaccurate title: The coolest little capital in the world. We need a cool bridge that makes people WANT to go for a run or a bike ride, just so that they can get to go over the bridge. We need a cool bridge that drivers from Miramar will smile at each time they go under it, and that taxi drivers to the airport can proudly say “Nearly there now” as they shuttle to and fro.
The possibility of an underpass should be knocked on the head immediately for a number of reasons, including:
- Underground round there means underwater and you just know its going to get wet
- Underground underpasses are a breeding ground for muggers, rapists and murderers. Don’t try and tell me otherwise, it’s true.
- Big storms and big rains and sea spray – it’s going to fill with water some time. I’ve seen that before!
- A hole in the ground is about as sexy and cool as a freshly dug grave. Ain’t no way I’m getting into that! Not before time!!
But a bridge, now, that’s a sexy subject right there. How many times have you heard of a bridge in the title of a song, or a movie, or an adventure? The bridge to Mandalay. The bridge over the river Kwai. The bridge of star-crossed lovers. The Pont-Neuf. There are hundreds of examples of places and people where bridges have united communities, healed wounds, crossed roads…
And here’s a thought. Why don’t we have a competition to design a new bridge? Something to get people excited about? Or commission the best engineers and architects in the land to design us a new bridge? Why don’t we get Alistair Cattanach to give it his best shot and give us sex on a stick that the whole town will swoon over? Why not be really forward thinking and design something that incorporates a route for the inevitable Light Rail to the airport, one day?
Why not? Why not? Why not?
Re: the underpass – at least we could possibly have a sick-as bomb competition!
Also – YES to a bridge! Wellington’s version of a Hovenring.
What a wonderful collection of possibilities.
One hopes against hope that, against all previous experience, and all dashed expectations, that something splendid may come of this.
The Raumati overbridge on the Kapiti Expressway might be a better starting point than the Ava Station overbridge or the Naenae Station underpass. . . take it easy though. . . too much sudden exposure to your gallery may bring on medical complications.
That’s a very good example Mr Filth, and the great thing is that NZTA will have exact figures for the construction of the over bridge on the Kapiti Expressway – I wonder if the cost of that is available online?
NZTA are getting better at pedestrian bridges as Auckland’s light path shows,
Closer to home on the Kapiti Coast, there is this over the expressway,
Also we are also promised an “architecturally” designed bridge for the ngauranga-petone path, but given that it will also be used by vehicles during construction, and be able to be used by emergency vehicles afterward, I don’t hold out much hope that it will be “stunning”
If LGWM are allowed to get away with a crossing here is sets the bar pretty low for the ambition of the rest of the projects….
The trade-off of things like sexy bridges is that they are really expensive, and the stick insect above is probably the most realistic option. It is wasn’t orange it would be horrible looking.
If we want to get some good infrastructure we need to be realistic about the vast costs of tracked light rail, when we could future proof with rapid bus corridors and build multiple other, smaller, projects such as the bridge, and cover the traffic through the bypass to make the city far more liveable than a street train can.
Expensive is a tricky concept. How do you balance the cost of a thousand irritated car drivers per day, vs hassle free cost for every runner from now on ? How much is “too much” ?
They seem very keen to throw as much shade on bridges as possible,
1) The Mass transit needs to be planned first … (given the mass transit to the Airport is phase 2 of the project- this is simply code for we might build you a bridge later but for now you’re getting a crossing!
2) its an “oversize” route,- again meaning the bridge has to be really high ( and expensive) – aka your bridge is writing checks LGWM can’t cash…
3) The ramps would be too long… someone really needs to show these guys this thing called curves and circles,
“While a bridge could be a long-term option, we first need to plan the major projects in the area, including choosing the mode and route for Mass Rapid Transit. There are also several challenges involved with building an overbridge crossing.”
I can’t believe they are using that as an excuse. You could reword this phrase of LGWM’s to say:
“We’ve had over 5 years to decide a route for Mass Rapid Transit, and while we still haven’t a clue as to what form that might take, we’re in absolutely no doubt which route it will take. Still, we want to spin this out for as long as we can just to piss off as many people as possible, so we’ll make up some really spurious reasons that only a bunch of numpties would believe. Plain simple fact is that we haven’t got anyone with the talent to design something interesting, and nor do we have anyone with the ability to make a decision. We all had our balls removed at birth.”
Amazing ideas, great article, very positive and forward-looking, thank you :-)
Out of idle curiosity, why not a motor traffic bridge over ground-level pedestrian/cycle/wheelchair/scooter users?
Mr Filth – motor bridges over = massive cost, massively heavy structures, oppressive horrible effect on people going underneath, raised source of noise=more visual and audible acoustic pollution (although, being next to the airport, that one makes no difference!). Generally speaking, a pedestrian and cycle bridge has almost no live load and so it can be very thin and light – main problem in Wellington near that site will of course be a massive amount of wind… but thin and light would allow good engineers to craft a very delicate structure. Of course, bad engineers could also design a heavy and ugly structure instead. So, we ask architects and engineers to form a team for a mini competition to design a beautiful, inspiring, lightweight pedestrian structure over the Cobham Drive. They’ll leap at the chance!
This Taranaki one is cool
also another view
Yes, it is pretty cool. (Sorry – you were kept i the spam folder for a while). Can you remember who the designers were? It’s quite a clever design – a simple arch up top, but the supports (hangers? chords? struts?) rotate as it progresses. I would have hated to be the engineer responsible for working out the live load stresses on that thing…
its got its own wiki page
and a swath of awards….
The designer was Peter Mulqueen, and here is his take on it..
Who says engineers don’t have soul?
Some engineers sure have soul : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lODBVM802H8
All great ideas but alas i fear that they may have already made up their minds – as construction is noted to start at the end of the year. I hope the feedback will encourage them to reconsider that – but i’m not holding my breath.
It is incredible frustrating that we seem to keep making these “mistakes” with the planning of our urban infrastructure – Island Bay cycleway, city bypass, Arras Tunnel etc (+ the failed Basin Bridge). All great examples where money was saved without much thought of the long term. I don’t believe that Transmission Gully has any flexibility built into it for future rapid PT either for that matter? Feel free to correct me though.
Captain, I think you’re right – there is no PT planned for the TransmissionGully. The thought was, I believe, that the train on its present route would suffice for the PT segment of the trip. No need for trains up the TG route – but I guess that there will be some buses, perhaps. Unless all the buses keep going the eating coastal route – so as to pick up / set down passengers at places like Porirua, Plimmerton etc.
I assume by the “eating route” you are referring to the Fisherman’s Table – all you can eat salad bar!
Oh bugger – the curse of the auto-correct strikes again. Actually, i very nearly did stop off there last night – but it was packed with cars – the advantage of commandeering the only place on the coast, even though their food is crapola… Sigh…. i drove on by. I think, what i was trying to say, was: Unless all the buses keep going up the existing coastal route…
Not sure what the fixation with bridges is all about, what it does say is pedestrians last after the important fast vehicle using few below and you on-footers or wheelchairers can climb up and over in the windy space, never mind if you find that hard going.
Most Wellington people walk and bus or train on a daily basis, it’s time to put them first, with a nice dedicated pedestrian crossing at ground level from Kilbirnie to the beach, and the new (though rather exposed concrete) footpath along to Miramar or Hataitai. Traffic lights are the only way to go on this road and the speed needs to be safer with a maximum 50km/h. It’s the only sensible future plan
What beach, Mr B?
One of the reasons I far prefer a bridge over a pedestrian crossing, is that the desire lines can be respected more with a bridge. Look at the “desire line” for the car drivers – all they have to do is to slow down and stop for a few seconds, hardly moving a muscle other than one foot or even just a toe or two. Its a dead straight line, momentarily disrupted journey. But the pedestrians at a pedestrian crossing have an annoying zigzag path – both before, during, and after their crossing of the street. That zigzag in the middle is just a royal pain in the arse – corralled like sheep in a pen with metal fencing (“baaaa, baaaah!!!!”) and I would be really irritated with it.
But consider a well designed bridge. Not only could it be aligned at an angled slice over the roadway depending on where people want to go – presumably more likely to have a stronger pathway from Evans Bay towards the airport, rather than from Miramar towards Kilbirnie…? But also: a bridge would be a ikon, a beacon, something proud and beautiful that would add to the experience of Wellington as a whole, rather than just a mundane piece of ground level infrastructure with zero charm?
Name me one single example of a traffic-light controlled pedestrian crossing in the world that stands out as a thing of joy and beauty? Whereas we could state hundreds, if not thousands, of bridges that inspire and bring joy.
The Cuba/Dixon St rainbow crossing? ;-)
grumble grumble… OK, yes, that’s One. Name me another..! A spot of coloured paint goes a long way towards liberalising attitudes around sexuality and gender identity. But you get my point, yes?
Hence the winky face.
I get your point, and am definitely in the pro-(well-designed) bridge camp.
I have to agree with Mr B. For all of my sixty years I have cheated as a pedestrian. When I am in a vehicle I have the benefit of my energy slaves and in addition I almost always get the easiest, shortest and most direct route. When I am under my own steam I have to take the longer, more uncomfortable route – up and down a zig zag ramp to get to a windy overbridge, or under a damp, rubbish ridden and scary underpass, or stand on a cold, windy and rainy median strip for 45 seconds. I would take 45 seconds sitting in my warm car any day over standing in the middle of Cobham Drive, or opposite the Embassy Theatre on Courtenay Place. A light controlled pedestrian crossing is the most energy efficient option for walkers for all abilities, people with strollers, in wheelchairs, or with children in tow. Ideally traffic engineers should be able to design light sequencing so that people on the crossing get a continuous walk across all lanes from either direction. If those on foot or bikes must stop in the middle then some kind of transparent, weather proof shelter would be an improvement.
Ooops. Not “cheated” but “been cheated”
The reason why I don’t agree with traffic lights is the simple one of: speed and safety. From the NZTA’s own info (on the previous post), the “signals are issued to reduce crashes by 45% and the grade separated option by 85%”. Quite how a grade-separated option (ie bridge or tunnel) could have a crash reduction rate of anything less than 100% I’m not quite sure – but a crash reduction of 45% implies that 55% of the time there will still be people speeding through the signals, people running the red light in cars, stupidity in joggers or cyclists who are tired of waiting for the signals to change… in other words, a pedestrian crossing at Grade is still a significant safety hazard, now and in the future.
I cannot believe the reasoning behind a pedestrian crossing.
LGWM say they are concerned re safety, well it is 5 years since the person died crossing the road, why does it take 5 years?
Why was the crossing, be it a bridge or an underpass not factored into the Cobain Drive Cycle/walkway when designing and or constructing safety issue was already there (and has been for many many years not just 5), the cycleway/walkway has just created a bigger safety problem..
It’s mentioned that the bridge would need a long ramp each side, so people will not need to walk or ride any further than if they are walking along to the crossing…my mind makes me wonder..
I would be interested to hear from anyone who is going to ride in their wheelchair from Miramar to Kilbirnie?,
Well that’s my two pennies worth…am I being too logical..?
I’m firmly with Mr B and Julienz on this – it’s about time we paid more than lip service to pedestrians. A good rule of thumb in terms of transport design is that if grades need to be separated it’s the powered modes that need to do the climbing, not people using their own puff.
I find it very hard to see how desire lines can be respected more by a bridge than by a crossing. To get above the traffic a bridge will need ramps 100m or more long, which will tend to add longitudinal (as well as well as vertical) distance to a walking journey, away from the desire line – definitely not “momentarily disrupted”! A small horizontal displacement will be much, much more of a disruption than large ones both horizontally and vertically.
A bridge wouldn’t reduce crashes to zero because a high, exposed bridge is such an obstacle (as Julienz describes) that, human nature being what it is, people will still take the easier option of crossing the road. So a bridge will also be a safety hazard – and an expensive one at that (and just look at the dreadful benefit/cost ratio).
As for people in wheelchairs, an acquaintance in a wheelchair in the Hutt has described how liberating the new Beltway path is out there, allowing him to travel kilometres rather than metres, so there’s no reason that that wouldn’t apply here, too – and facilities like this have to be designed for universal access (and rightly so).
A bridge might be capable of being attractive, but it’s a waste of money if it doesn’t work for the people its designed for. In this respect, a crossing wins hands down – and if we want something sculptural, let’s build a sculpture!