I’ve been thinking about a comment I made, that Lindsay Shelton picked up over on Scoop, where he was talking about what one of Wellington’s leading bloggers had said. Ahem. I had noted that “I think we need to start exploring the concept for a trench at least in parts along Vivian St, as 3 lanes at ground level there is just going to be horrific.” And so I now feel honour-bound to explore that. Is it feasible?
Well, there’s no doubt that it physically could be done, but would anyone ever want to do it?
Let’s look at what it would entail. Here’s a map of Vivian St, including the 1m contour lines. What it doesn’t show is the services. But you know the street – pretty much slopes downhill all the way, across town.

Money, especially in undergrounding a main urban road like this, is the biggest issue of all. If they couldn’t afford to put the whole of Karo Drive underground, as arguably they should have, then it is going to be all that much more harder and totally impractical due to expense here. It’s the shifting of underground services that’ll kill off any such talk.
But are there any alternatives? While nearly every pedestrian on the planet (OK, in Wellington) would like, is for the incessant traffic of Vivian St to go away, or be underground, out of sight (or out of site!), what is most important is the pedestrian routes north and south – if they could be made accessible, instead of having to wait for the lights, then that would be great. Pedestrian routes in this part of town all predominantly run north-south – so that includes, Willis, Victoria, Cuba, Taranaki, Tory, Cambridge and Kent. Phew – that’s quite a few! Let’s have a look at that in a long section – exagerated for height, obviously, but drawn out reasonably accurately based on the contour lines above.

We can see that the route of Vivian St is, as we know, a bit of a roller coaster. This long telephoto shot indicates the nature of the beast:

It seems from that picture, that there is room to tunnel under in some spots. I guess that one option is just to trench down all along the route, but then the poor harassed business owners along V St will be completely out of touch with their passing roadway. They have a hard enough time as is. But there are a couple of places that one could slip in an underpass: right at the top, to slip under Willis and Victoria (which would greatly aid the people from Brooklyn who want to get to the rest of Wellington). The other, and it is pushing it here, is under Tory St.

Yes, I know – the angle of the road works out OK (but only just – it is a little steep), but the top of Vivian St can work out all day long – if NZTA wanted to. I’ve noted previously that they have deliberately left it so that can be an option at a later date.

At the Tory St “underpass” this would mean that there is no room for turning left or right off Vivian and onto Tory. While that would be good for cyclists and pedestrians on Tory (which looks like it will just get more and more popular as a foodie location), it is not that good for businesses that want to get their goods to the door in Tory. Have a look at this enlarged section by Tory St – the orange line indicates the amount of businesses that will have a trench in front of their building – and potentially only a skinny footpath as a frontage. Not that nice…. but arguably / possibly nicer than having a 3-lane motorway going past your front door?

Of course, the biggest hold up on Vivian St is the junction with Taranaki St, but there is no point trying to sweat that – it will always be needed as a interchange point. As is Cambridge/Kent Tce junction – it’s a major interchange, and traffic banks up there. As the main route from SH1 to the airport and therefore the major clashpoint with north-south traffic is either Taranaki or Cambridge/Kent, then this is a potential future sticking point as well. The only other option would be a bridge of traffic over Cambridge/Kent, and that would look something like this:

Don’t think it hasn’t been thought about yet though – my guess is that there is a consultant’s draw with a proposed scheme for an overbridge here, just waiting to go ahead…

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