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Transport Minister to discuss new Mt Vic tunnel with Andy Foster

Report from RNZ
Wellington’s $6.4 billion dollar LGWM transport overhaul is back up for discussion, with the Transport Minister Phil Twyford saying he’s open to talks with the city’s new mayor Andy Foster about the plan.

The Let’s Get Wellington Moving transport plan includes rapid transit from the city to airport, an improved bus network, and a second Mt Victoria tunnel.

But the government pushed out the start of construction on the tunnel from 2024 until at least the end of that decade.

Rush-hour traffic-jams plague the tunnel which is an arterial route linking the eastern suburbs – including the airport – with the city’s CBD.

The Let’s Get Wellington Moving group recommended to the government late last year that construction for a second Mt Victoria tunnel should begin as early as 2024. But in May the government pushed that out until at least the end of that decade.

Andy Foster told RNZ after he was elected on Saturday that he wanted a second Mt Victoria tunnel to be a priority. He told Morning Report he was going to go to Phil Twyford and ask him to bring it and other projects forward.

“I do intend to go and speak with the minister. And obviously it’s a great news that he’s receptive to an approach about that.”

“It has been a clear message from a large part of our community that they don’t like being stuck in traffic and they don’t want to be stuck in traffic for another decade – plus.

“They do want a solution – that’s particularly strong in eastern suburbs.”

He said ideally he wanted to get the planning, consenting and funding sorted for a second Mount Victoria tunnel by the end of his first three-year term.

Wellington’s Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Milford said he was delighted Mr Twyford was open to new discussions. “I believe that both central government and local governments want to find a solution. So what needs to happen is people need to get around the table without having closed minds, without having fixed views on what needs to be the outcome.

“And saying ‘what is the best outcome for the city. Let’s get towards that point and get on with it’.”

Nick Leggett from trucking lobby the Road Transport Forum said he was looking forward to any progress Mr Foster could make.

“He’s got more clarity than I’ve heard from mayor of Wellington on this issue for a very long time, I think he seems pretty clear-sighted. And what we want now is for Minister Twyford to respond positively and to recognise that actually Wellingtonians want to see action.”

Lyall Bay resident Tori Levy said she does everything she can to avoid taking the tunnel. “I actively don’t drive through the tunnel because it annoys me so much. I drive over the back of the hill to the back of Newtown and I park my car there and then I walk through instead … because the traffic’s really bad out this side of town.”

Ms Levy said a second tunnel’s needed as soon as possible. “I think it needs to be looked at. I think … it’s been been ignored and kind of pushed off the table. Wellington’s growing and we need to sort that out pretty quick or we’re going to find ourselves in an Auckland [traffic] situation in the next 10 years which is not ideal.”

Funding for Let’s Get Wellington Moving is split roughly 60-40 between central government and the Wellington city and regional councils.

Mr Twyford said he looked forward to working with Mr Foster and he was happy to meet and talk about the details of the plan. However, he said he would not budge on the the cost-sharing agreement between central and local government.

National Party transport spokesperson and Hutt South MP Chris Bishop told Morning Report that Wellington voters disagreed with the plan’s public transport focus, and the Transport Minister should renegotiate with Mr Foster and prioritise the construction of a second Mt Victoria tunnel.

3 comments:

  1. Chris Horne, 16. October 2019, 12:50

    Surely, deep down in their grey matter, Mayor Foster and Minister Twyford know that to increase the capacity of our city’s road network would not reduce congestion except briefly after completing any road project, be it the proposed twinning of Mt Victoria Tunnel, Terrace Tunnel, a tunnel at the Basin Reserve, or the 1990’s dream of a tunnel under Te Aro. “Induced traffic”, a phenomenon known world-wide, would swiftly return congestion to increasingly severe levels after completion of increased road capacity, as previous users of our bus and rail services decided to drive instead.

    More vehicle use = more climate-changing exhaust emissions. Not acceptable! NZ must comply with COP21 Paris Accord.

     
  2. Brendan, 17. October 2019, 8:06

    Good on Andy and Phil for getting ideas moving at least. Wellington needs to unblock itself fast! All that fuel and angst is getting wasted. A tunnel that’s tolled will let workers like me get around town faster.

     
  3. CC, 17. October 2019, 13:28

    There seem to be some strange assumptions floating around. Mr. Milford, a self-appointed expert with no relevant qualifications says, “So what needs to happen is people need to get around the table without having closed minds, without having fixed views on what needs to be the outcome.” Thus far, it seems the pro-tunnel advocates have pretty much closed their minds, himself included, but the overwhelming messages seem to be the converse. The Minister said he’s open to talks with the city’s new mayor so it appears the assumption is that he will progress the new tunnel option. Ms Levy gets annoyed but she seems to assume that public transport would not serve her needs any better than the diversion strategies she uses. Seemingly she assumes that another tunnel is the magic solution despite evidence to the contrary. Of course, the trucking lobby supremo is looking forward to progress but what are his assumptions? As regards the repetitive commenter Brendan, he assumes a tolled tunnel will be his magic carpet. Not likely if it is for light rail, cyclists and pedestrians as could well be the case. Finally, thank you to Chris Horne who again provides a sobering research-based response to the tunnel lobbyists.