by Lindsay Shelton
What do you do if you’re under attack? You call in a public relations company. And that’s what the Transport Agency seems to have done, as opponents of its Basin flyover start gearing up their campaign.
Evidence of PR expenditure is on display in the compliant, supportive DomPost this morning.
On the op-ed page, Jenny Chetwynd attempts to redefine the concrete flyover. She has accepted PR advice that it should be referred to as a “slimline sweeping elevated street.”
However she can’t altogether avoid reality. The agency’s photoshopped drawings don’t show a slimline structure – but a solid slab of concrete six metres above Kent and Cambridge Terrace.
Her op-ed article admits there’s a need to “visually mitigate the effects of the bridge.” But her only concern is to “visually mitigate” the visual effects for cricketers on the Basin. And what’s being planned sounds alarming: “a new structure that will be an appropriate fit for the ground.” Is this the new grandstand that the Basin Reserve Trust have been demanding?
On page 5 of the DomPost, project co-ordinator Selwyn Blackmore is more forthcoming. He says a new Basin Reserve grandstand is “a work in progress.” And he repeats concerns about cricketers being distracted. “There is some concern that the bridge will impact on batsmen’s views looking northwest, so we just haven’t got there with the design yet.”
The Agency is showing a disproportionate amount of concern for a few cricketers. The rest of us will have to look at the elevated concrete slabs every day. No amount of landscaping will hide them.
DomPost reporters Michael Forbes and Paul Easton are also doing their best to create a new version of reality. They write that there have been “eleventh hour attempts to reignite debate over a Basin Reserve tunnel instead of a flyover.” But this is not what Regional Councillor Paul Bruce’s successful resolution was proposing. The Regional Council voted to
work with the NZ Transport Agency and the Wellington City Council to ensure that the full range of options for freeing up public transport movements through the Basin Reserve are on the table.
It wasn’t “a tunnel motion,” as Fran Wilde is quoted as saying. It was a vote to consider the full range of options, and the decision came as a result of a vote by the entire Regional Council. Very different from its controversial decision a year ago to support the flyover, a decision which was reached without a vote being allowed.
The issue of accuracy has also been raised by Civic Trust chairman Alan Smith. In a letter published yesterday, he points out an error in a DomPost headline, which said the new flyover would provide “a faster way to the east.” Not correct. The flyover will carry only traffic travelling west. It won’t do anything to help traffic heading to the airport, which will still have to go through the stop-start experience of Vivian Street, before queuing to get into the single lane of the Mt Victoria Tunnel. And the westbound traffic: after the flyover and the tunnel under Buckle Street, it will still be stopped by traffic lights at Taranaki Street. And Cuba Street. And Willis Street.