Progress on the Basin Reserve

Cr Andy Foster, Transport Leader, Wellington City Council

NZTA will soon lodge an application for the Basin flyover project.

Council, NZTA and GWRC adopted the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan in 2008. This Council reconfirmed its support in 2011. The Plan clearly intends ‘doing something’ at the Basin in the first 10 years with the aim of benefitting all modes (public transport, walking, cycling, motorists, freight), and addressing pressure from City population growth (150,000 in 1991, 200,000 in 2012, and predicted 230,000 by 2031) and activity growth (airport, film industry etc). Traffic advice is clear, that without unlocking the Basin, further projects like tunnel duplication would just exacerbate congestion.

NZTA has proposed the ‘something’ should be a flyover. Council consistently expressed preference for an underground solution, but has never yet formally opposed or supported the flyover. We did reject a probably symbolic motion to ‘not to support’ it.

There were two major underground options. Council’s review earlier this year concluded the Architecture Centre’s Option X would achieve the required transport outcomes, but would be more expensive, and unfortunately would have even greater adverse visual amenity and urban design impacts. A tunnel along the Basin’s northern edge would cost at least another $200 million. Consequently Council agreed the flyover was the best available option and we would work closely with NZTA to ‘mitigate’ its effects – in other words – ‘if it is to be a flyover let’s get the best possible flyover we can’.

NZTA’s application will include some results of Council and NZTA’s collaborative mitigation work. Other elements will be incorporated as work is completed prior to public submissions probably in August-September

We’ve provided urban design reviews of the planned Basin Reserve pavilion which will screen views of the flyover from within the ground.
We’re planning works to address incomplete parts of Karo Drive. (those gravel areas)
NZTA has included public transport priority lanes and work on Adelaide Road.
I’ve held a workshop with urban designers and architects to review the bridge design and associated landscaping. They all agreed the overall design was well considered and suggested modest refinements to lighting, landscaping, finishes, art (etc) which have been provided for.
We are developing a design brief and agreement to work together on a well landscaped boulevard for Kent and Cambridge Terraces. This will be an exciting enhancement of this key route, and provide for enhanced public transport, walking and cycling opportunities.
We have examined the best options on the Ellice St corner to screen the flyover from residential areas.
Over a longer period Council and NZTA have been planning improvements to intersections along Karo Drive and Vivian St to improve the efficiency of both State Highway and local streets.

Simply put, we need changes at the Basin, and have a strategic commitment to that with partners GWRC and NZTA. Furthermore every Council transport strategy has included an enhanced ring road to help free up the central city. Equally simply we are now out of alternatives without Government politically determining to spend at least another $200 million on undergrounding. ‘Roads of National Significance’ already consume an extraordinary proportion of national transport funding so this seems unlikely.

Therefore now the focus is on getting the best possible flyover we can.