14 Mar 2018

Wellingtonians back larger, costlier transport upgrade

7:32 am on 14 March 2018

Wellingtonians are keen to see more tunnels in the city and light rail introduced to make the journey between Ngauranga and the airport and hospital easier.

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State Highway 1 into Wellington city. Photo: RNZ / Russell Palmer

Feedback on the Let's Get Wellington Moving initiative has been put together in a report.

It showed most people believed Option D - the most expensive and ambitious plan costing up to $2.3 billion, was the way forward.

In November last year the Let's Get Wellington Moving group - made up of Wellington City Council, the regional council, and the Transport Agency, released four scenarios for people to consider.

Option A would open up public transport between the train station and the Basin Reserve, and improve the road around the basin without tunnels or bridges.

B would build on that, adding mass transit - a high capacity transport system separated from other traffic, such as light rail - and a second Mt Victoria Tunnel, and option C would also put part of State Highway 1 under Te Aro.

Option D - the most popular possibility, predicted to cost up to $2.3 billion and take 10 years to finish - would combine all those scenarios, and add a second Terrace tunnel, another southbound lane on the motorway between Ngauranga and Aotea Quay, and a plan to have fewer cars along the city's waterfront.

How the feedback was broken down

  • 560 were for Scenario A
  • 216 were for Scenario B
  • 193 were for Scenario C
  • 635 were for Scenario D

Most of the money would come from the government, with the city and regional councils pitching in.

Let's Get Wellington Moving programme director Barry Mein said more than 2000 people gave detailed feedback on the different scenarios.

The end result was unlikely to be one of the four scenarios mooted, he said.

"It will include parts of the scenarios, as well as other elements supported by the public feedback and our ongoing work."

Mr Mein agreed the Basin Reserve was being treated with caution after plans to build a flyover there were scuppered by a Board of Inquiry in 2014.

"The feedback showed that people saw that as a problem area to be addressed but there was no clear consensus, as I guess you would expect, on how that should be done. So it is obviously an area we're going to have to approach with a great deal of care."

Greater Wellington Regional Council chair Chris Laidlaw said the most important thing would be building uncluttered public transport corridors.

"This is what people are asking for they've been quite unequivocal about that. They want more space for public transport, they want more space for walking and cycling.

"The final product is going to have to deliver those otherwise it will fail."

Wellington had messed about with piecemeal roading options for the last 10 years and needed to get it right, he said.

Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Milford was adamant Option D was what the capital needed. He said the feeling he was getting from the business community was that they wanted to fix the Wellington infrastructure once, and get it right.

"I think ... the majority of people have been frustrated by the stop/start scenarios put forward in the past.

"The solution that was put forward for the Basin Reserve previously obviously wasn't acceptable to the public, but actually that was done on a piecemeal basis so even if we'd fixed up a solution for the Basin there'd be consequences in other parts of the city."

The feedback will be used to come up with a recommended programme and next steps, which will be presented to the two councils and the Transport Agency in the middle of the year.

It will then go back to the public, for another round of consultation.

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