However you describe it, the 380-metre-long structure that the Transport Agency wants to build from Tory Street to the Mount Victoria Tunnel would change the Wellington cityscape forever, and not for the better.
We’ve been wrong to describe it as a flyover. It’s much bigger than that. And the Transport Agency is wrong to describe it as a bridge. In reality it would be an elevated highway – which is an approach to road design from the early 20th Century that’s out of favour in most places.
Many US cities have been demolishing their elevated highways because of their negative effect on their neighbourhoods. This demolition took place in San Francisco.
So Wellington is lucky that the Architectural Centre has developed an alternative plan – its Option X solves roading congestion around the Basin Reserve without the need for a bridge, a flyover or an elevated highway. The Centre’s work makes it evident that the Agency has been taking a blinkered approach, thinking only of roads and not at all about the larger cityscape.
Guy Marriage, immediate past president of the Architectural Centre, took a wider view in a statement yesterday:
“Our city is important to Wellingtonians – just remember what we did in order to get a vibrant waterfront. The Basin Reserve area is a key part of Wellington’s future growth, and its redesign needs to consider wider issues than just transport.”
The waterfront comparison is a telling one. Public unrest about excessive construction didn’t begin till the Events Centre and the (failed) Retail Centre were completed – but then it was too late. It’ll be too late for the city if the 380-metre elevated highway is built.
The Architectural Centre’s president Christine McCarthy is also to the point when she says:
“This isn’t just about transport. It’s about the design of nationally significant places, it’s about what we want the shape of our city to be, and it’s about the actively choosing the quality of the environment we live in.”
Option X would cost more, but it will give much more to the city. It not only solves Basin Reserve traffic problems without the need to build a bridge, but also it gives the city more green parks, it provides safer cycling and pedestrian routes, and it trenches State Highway One under the National War Memorial Park. How insulting that the Transport Agency wants a main road to run through the park.
The Agency has set a deadline of Friday for Wellingtonians to tell it what they think. It should be receiving a simple message. Its elevated highway (which it calls a bridge and which we used to call a flyover) is not good for Wellington. It should be adopting Option X. Have you told the Agency what you think? There are two ways of doing this –
§ Email your preference for Option X to firstname.lastname@example.org
§ Or complete a feedback form at http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/basin-reserve/engagement.html#feedback
Remember the waterfront. It was to late to stop the Events Centre and the (failed) Retail Centre. But it’s not too late to oppose the 380-metre elevated highway.
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