Wellington Scoop

Peak-hour motorway gridlock not solved by LGWM plan

Report from RNZ
LGWM’s $6.4 billion plan to overhaul Wellington’s transport network will fail to fix the gridlock for commuters coming in and out of the city, regional leaders say.

The project includes yet-to-be-detailed rapid transit from the city to airport, and a second Mt Victoria tunnel.

Rush-hour traffic heading to and from the Hutt and Kapiti Coast is often brought to a standstill at the Ngauranga Gorge, but there’s no mention of motorway congestion or how it would be dealt with in the Let’s Get Wellington Moving plan.

Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace has called for the government to put in an extra lane from Ngauranga Gorge to Petone.

“Clearly, unless there is something done, and this is why we need to get that now in the plan to have that additional third lane or removable lane in that’s going to be more crucial than ever, because if we don’t get that in, than this Wellington Moving plan really fails at that point.”

He’s only supporting the plan at this stage because the Transport Minister has promised the Hutt will get the long awaited Melling Upgrade and the Petone to Grenada link. Both projects have been put on hold, and won’t be considered for funding for another decade.

Another problem for Wellington commuters is the motorway bottleneck at the Terrace Tunnel. State Highway One continues from the Tunnel as a narrow road through the middle of the city and the plan has ditched an idea of putting the route underground.

That falls short of what is needed, said Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Milford.

“So we’re not getting a second Terrace tunnel, which means we’re still going to have traffic flowing through the middle of the city, on roads that will be unsuitable for the volume of traffic we’re talking about.”

Mr Milford also has reservations about how it will be funded, with local councils expected to come up with $2.56b of the cost, which he said could result in residential and business rate increases. “We’ve now got one hand tied behind our back because the regional fuel tax has been taken off the table by government so we’re going to have to come up with new methodologies.”

AA spokesperson Mike Noon said that road users’ would be expected to cough up, without getting their fair share of investment.

“Road users’ will be paying for a lot of this through their taxes that they pay on the road and inflation-adjusted taxes that they pay and that is going to be for 10, 20, 30 years so the big concern here, is this going to use nearly all of the available money in Wellington for decades.”

Transport Minister Phil Twyford was confident at yesterday’s announcement that $4.4b over the next 30-years for regional roading projects would be enough.

“We have ensured in the modelling that we have allowed plenty of future expenditure for the Wellington region that would be enough to accommodate the big projects that are in the region’s regional land transport programme.”


  1. mason, 18. May 2019, 11:56

    Why build an additional lane to encourage more people to drive – the complete opposite of what we need to do. Widening roads does not fix congestion.

  2. Brendan, 18. May 2019, 15:47

    mason – widening roads does fix congestion if you widen them enough. Look to Los Angeles and Houston for proof.

  3. mason, 19. May 2019, 3:28

    Does it fix congestion though, and for how long? Do we want the 15-lane Katy Freeway here too? The severance and space issues would be terrible outcomes.

  4. Steve Doole, 20. May 2019, 8:35

    Mason is right. For example, no road capacity has been added inside London for a long time, say 30 years – since the idea of multiple orbital roads was dropped. (The orbital M25 outside London was completed though, to remove through traffic.)
    In the highest jobs density area, the City of London, during evening peak hours there is hardly a motor vehicle in sight, as pedestrians flow everywhere, loads of them, most heading for one of many railway stations.
    Compare that to Auckland or maybe Los Angeles. It’s easy to see which is more successful.

  5. Morris Minor, 20. May 2019, 9:14

    Los Angeles, Houston and Auckland may not be pretty to the urban elites but they are pretty “successful”. Houston for example has been the fastest growing metropolis in the USA and all based on that awful thing – the ubiquitous motor car. And why has Auckland in the word of John Key left Wellington ‘dead’ in its tracks?
    And for London, if cars weren’t so in demand why did Red Ken (after he learnt to drive) introduce a cordon charge?

  6. Paul, 20. May 2019, 10:19

    @ Steve Doole, it only makes sense if you haven’t planned properly and provided enough capacity on the route…

  7. mason, 20. May 2019, 11:42

    Pretty simple equation, add road capacity + add traffic.

  8. Brendan, 20. May 2019, 12:53

    @mason Don’t ‘equations’ have an = sign?