Wellington Scoop

What they’re saying about the flyover (including Fran’s refusal to mention it)

The Transport Agency’s stubborn decision to build a concrete bridge on the northern side of the Basin Reserve has brought a mass of criticism from Wellingtonians. Among the few expressions of support, a statement from Regional Council chair Fran Wilde in which she praises the proposal without mentioning the flyover.

Does anyone else believe this?
“I believe that the Transport Agency means what it says about its commitment to respect the heritage and sensitivity of the surrounding environment…”
– Fran Wilde, in her statement which refers to a “new road” but doesn’t mention the flyover

Most cutting attack
“The Agency’s proposal for an overpass will severe the city like a knife, and is counter to the principles of the Urban Design Protocol, which the Agency has signed up to.”
– Architectural Centre President, Christine McCarthy

Most passionate critique
“No sensitive urban design will hide its bulk, or the squalor and tagging that inevitably follows beneath it … Just another State Highway bridge … say like the recent Dowse one across SH2. ”
– Alan Smith of the Civic Trust

Does he know what he’s saying?
“A proposed new Basin Reserve stand I believe is a positive move to block the visual impact of the bridge.”
Swampy Marsh, agreeing that the flyover will have a visual impact, but pretending that a new stand will somehow hide it

Most reasonable criticism, overlooked by everyone else
“This bridge will be one-way only. After it’s built, SH1 traffic towards the airport will still run down Vivian Street and cross the main bus routes on the level. The Agency talks a lot about separating highway and local traffic … Today’s plan makes no change at all for half of that traffic.”
– Alan Smith of the Civic Trust

The toughest statement
“The community will fight this proposal using every legal and political avenue possible. I very much hope that they will be successful.”
– Councillor Iona Pannett

The strongest condemnation
“The Agency has consistently ignored public feedback which has opposed the flyover. Nearly 80% of submitters to the Ngauranga to Airport Strategic Study in 2008 objected to this project whilst NZTA’s own process showed that hundreds of people were critical of the proposal. The consultation process has been a sham with a pre-determined outcome.”
Councillor Iona Pannett

The softest criticism
“The Council will actively express its concerns about the environmental and urban design impacts of the flyover … it’s disappointing for the NZTA to say that the Basin tunnel can’t realistically be built.”
– Mayor Celia Wade-Brown

The toughest adjectives
“Lazy, inept design … we’ve been handed an ugly motorway on-ramp for $90 million that will destroy much of what our city values at the Basin Reserve.”
Kent Duston, Save the Basin campaigner

Does he think that anyone will believe him?
“The decision to progress Option A comes after extensive analysis of public feedback.”
Rod James of the Transport Agency

And then he says it again
“The decision to progress Option A, the bridge 20 metres north of the Basin Reserve’s northern entrance, was made after careful consideration of public feedback.”
– Rod James of the Transport Agency

Most shameless under-statement
“The Transport Agency recognises that the decision to build Option A won’t please everyone.”
Rod James, again

A reminder that there are other choices
“There are alternatives that need to be revisited that will improve traffic flow without destroying the character of the area … The flyover decision needs to be reconsidered in light of the Government’s unexpected U-turn on the Memorial Park.”
Grant Robertson and Annette King

A constructive suggestion
“If necessary, wait until economic conditions improve and then build a tunnel when we can afford it. Don’t build a cheaper fly-over that we’ll regret.”
– Councillor Justin Lester

Living in the past
“The Transport Agency are destroying inner Wellington! First there was the motorway, then the bypass and now this monstrous flyover. They are still living in the 60s and do not have the imagination to look for 21st century solutions.”
– Councillor Stephanie Cook

And a financial analysis
“The Transport Agency is intending to spend $90million to build just 400 metres of road, plus the inevitable cost over-runs. It’s clearly a lousy investment for the country, and represents a degree of fiscal irresponsibility that hasn’t been seen since the Think Big era”.
– Kent Duston


  1. elmer, 20. August 2012, 10:38

    The price of a flyover – six minutes!

    According to the NZTA website – “If we don’t take the right steps to sort this out now, then by 2021 it will take about 16 minutes to from Cobham Drive to Taranaki Street. With the improvements in place, the same trip will only take 10 minutes.”

    I am appalled that a flyover is to be built next to the Basin yet there is so little real benefit.

  2. Save The Basin, 20. August 2012, 12:46

    Elmer – the “improvements” they’re talking about are the widening of Wellington Rd and Ruahine St plus a second Mt Victoria tunnel plus a flyover … to get the whole 6 minutes of time savings, NZTA have to spend something like $400 million plus.

    If you want to find out how much time the flyover will save, you can try this little experiment yourself:

    Step 1: Get in the car and drive from Hataitai to the city via the Mt Victoria tunnel.
    Step 2: Time how long it takes you to get to the other side of the Basin Reserve. Do this a few times to take account of the fact that sometimes you’ll get the green lights, and sometimes you’ll get the red one. This is your “current” figure.
    Step 3: Go to Google Earth and trace the route of the flyover along the north side of the Basin Reserve. Work out about how far this is (clue: it’s about 400 metres maximum).
    Step 4: Assume that there will be no congestion or other delays and therefore that you’ll drive at about 40km/hr across the flyover, thus allowing you to calculate the shorter travel time. This is your “promised” figure.
    Step 5: Compare the “current” figure with the “promised” figure. You’ll probably discover (like we did when we performed this little experiment) that the difference is about 38 seconds.

    So there are two conclusions we can draw:
    – Most of the alleged time savings don’t occur as a result of defiling the Basin Reserve; they’re almost solely due to the massive changes in Hataitai and the second tunnel
    – Believing that 38 seconds in time saving justifies $90million in costs and the damage to a heritage area is the preserve of naive fools who think there are faeries at the bottom of the garden, or traffic engineers.

  3. Elaine Hampton, Mt Victoria Residents Assn,, 20. August 2012, 16:23

    Also, a waste of money – or pure pork barrel politics. Why borrow to build 400 metres of flyover, defiling one of the world’s 10 most iconic cricket grounds, taking the reducing number of cars on the road to the next bottleneck to wait years for the tunnel to be built. Why not wait until money is available for the project as a whole?

    Dumb, unless of course it isn’t about cars or people especially in Wellington.

    We will have a road to nowhere for years after this lot are out of power.

  4. Maximus, 20. August 2012, 18:15

    Heritage area. We need to talk about this so-called heritage area. Where is the heritage, and in what area?

  5. traveller, 20. August 2012, 18:24

    C’mon. The Basin Reserve is a huge part of the city’s heritage – cricket has been played there since 1868, NZ’s first floodlit sports event was played there in 1879 (to demonstrate the power of electricity), NZ’s jubilee celebrations were held there in 1890, the first Dominion Day celebration was held there in 1908. Then there’s Government House (100 years old and the government has just spent a fortune restoring it), and the Home of Compassion creche (almost 100 years old), and St Mark’s (the first church was built here in 1876), and three schools. (Wellington College was founded in 1867). What more heritage do you want?

  6. Andrew, 21. August 2012, 8:16

    Thinking ahead 20 – 50 years: something needs to be done with that giant roundabout. The Wellington motorway was made back in the 60s. It was way over the top for back then, but look what it has done to the city. It’s fantastic and still meeting requirements 50 years later with a few smallish changes. Spend up big but do it right.

  7. Elaine Hampton, Mt Vic. Residents Assn, 21. August 2012, 9:26

    Exactly Andrew, something needs to be done, something should be done, something can be done with a reshuffle of the lights, pedestrian crossings and traffic flows. It doesn’t need a great concrete flyover desecrating this historic area. (Unless of course it’s not about us and our cars).
    This is not the ‘busiest roundabout in NZ.’ That statement is NZTA propaganda. (If it is so we don’t really have a traffic problem in NZ. Go watch the Basin traffic – it doesn’t stop unless the lights are red)
    Maximus – heritage is everywhere in this area, Patterson Street which will be bowled, the Basin, one of the world’s 10 most iconic cricket grounds. Heritage isn’t your favourite Meridian building.
    If you want any information on heritage in the area I suggest you approach the Mt Victoria Historical Society. They can give you chapter and verse.

  8. Sridhar, 21. August 2012, 10:19

    To be fair, the NZTA is simply parroting what the current government wants it to do (remember during the Labour regime they were talking in a different language).

    So there is no point venting our frustrations on NZTA who are just a pawn in this game. Those frustrations should be directed at the government run by the Nats who came with pre-selected closed options. They seem to have decided “to hell with any opposition, we will bulldoze our way to pursue our interests”.

    Give them a run for their money. Get public opinion changed against the Nats.

  9. Ferdinand Hendriks, 21. August 2012, 11:02

    Indeed Sridhar, it is John Key’s National Government bulldozing through
    their interests against the people’s wishes, especially the wishes of Wellingtonians. As I asked in one of my earlier comments “what has happened to democracy?”
    Let’s all think very carefully who we vote for at the next election.

  10. Sridhar, 21. August 2012, 15:29

    Well Ferdinand! democracy has been replaced by “corporatocracy” – a govt by the people of the people for “corporates”

  11. Tim, 21. August 2012, 15:59

    Remove the Basin Reserve completely and play cricket at the stadium. That will free up loads of space to redesign that end of town for freer traffic and new shopping mall. etc.

  12. Save The Basin, 21. August 2012, 16:24

    Maximus – The eastern embankment at the Basin is listed in the Historic Places register; from memory it’s Category 3. This is the very part of the Basin that will be directly at eye level with the flyover, and where mitigations are exceptionally difficult.

    In fact it’s a bit hard to see what the mitigations would be (an even larger unnecessary stand? A concrete wall?) that wouldn’t completely destroy the very ambience of the eastern embankment, which caused it to be listed in the first place …. a bit like the memorable phrase from the Vietnam War, that “we had to destroy the village in order to save it”.

  13. lindsay, 21. August 2012, 17:11

    The Transport Agency admits: “up to 25 buildings of recognised or potential heritage values … are affected by the Basin Reserve project.” Regardless of heritage, it has demolished several of these buildings. The Agency also admits: “The whole of the Basin Reserve is a registered heritage area by the NZ Historic Places Trust.”

  14. Maximus, 21. August 2012, 18:49

    Traveler, Elaine, Lindsay, Save the Basin – thank you all. I didn’t say there was no Heritage – just that we needed to talk about it. And now we are talking about it. So: mission accomplished !!!

  15. polly, 22. August 2012, 15:36

    What more does Tim want? Already two new supermarkets are planned for John and Tasman Streets (the latter at the sacrifice of a dedicated Learn to Swim centre). I recommends he rides the buses through the city and sees the To Lease signs everywhere and sale signs in the majority of retail stores. If he is in such a hurry to head south, he should try the Taranaki/Wallace/John Street route to Berhampore and Island Bay.

  16. david, 23. August 2012, 10:27

    The claimed six minutes improvement is to be a result of all the construction works (flyover, tunnel duplication, road widening …) plus a speed limit increase and despite new traffic lights along the Ruahine Street-Cobham Drive reach. You have to believe that you will do the whole journey at that speed limit. Note also that the six minutes improvement is claimed only during peak periods or two hours per day; we can only guess what happens during the other 22 hours per day. My guess is the off-peak journey will take longer than at present, due to such features as additional traffic lights. I have requested clarification of this point from NZTA but without success.

  17. Rosamund, 25. August 2012, 11:45

    The main beneficiaries of this project will be the lenders of the many millions of dollars that will be required to not only build but also to excavate the swampy ground to embed the pillars that will hold up the flyover. I suggest that the costs – social, cultural,economic and environmental – will exceed $200m even if various categories are “assigned” to their own “cost centres” to disguise the actual costs of this “sequestration” of our assets.

    The route through to Kilbirnie is along the base of Mt.Vic on a waterway that was only reclaimed in the early 20th C.

    Surely the most sensible way of managing traffic to the Airport would be to send freight on barges via the harbour from Nguaranga or even Kaiwharawhara. Heavy vehicles coming from the inner city could travel via Happy Valley Road thus allowing car drivers to spread themselves around the waterfront/Adelaide Rd or even up-and-over Mt.Vic. etc. Or even walk or use public transport.

    I really cannot see any need for this saving of six minutes. What will people do with this extra time? And why is this timesaving excuse being used yet again, as it was for the Manners Mall busway and the motorway extension through Koru Drive.

  18. Maximus, 27. August 2012, 7:32

    Rosamund – re your suggestion about the barges being ‘surely the most sensible way’ – ummm, sorry, but No. Not a sensible suggestion at all.
    And also, your comment that the money will go to the people who dig the hole for the flyover supports? Actually, wrong again there – it will be piled, most likely – yes, deep piles, but basically nobody is going to be climbing down that hole. Better to stick to comments on things you actually know about. Your comment about “is it worth 6 minutes” is spot on…

  19. Chris Laidlaw, 29. August 2012, 14:41

    This whole debacle could have been avoided if the various parties had got together and collectively hammered out a rational approach, preferably backed by a spatial plan. Alas, our political system doesn’t yet allow for that and until it does we will continue to get these ad hoc, disjointed decisions.

  20. insider, 30. August 2012, 11:13

    Chris: that is a remarkably ignorant comment, particularly given you sit on the committee that covers ‘Regional form/spatial planning’.

    Ngauranga to Airport Plan anyone? Wellington Urban Development Strategy? The Growth Spine? Wellington 2040? Wellington Regional Strategy? Wellington RLTP? PT Spine Study?

    For you to say this is ad hoc and disjointed makes me wonder what you’ve been paid for all these years.