by Lindsay Shelton
There’s an added reason for Wellington city councillors to reaffirm their opposition to the Basin Reserve flyover today. While the Transport Agency’s current plan is to build one flyover carrying two lanes of west-bound traffic, it has an even worse idea for the future: a second flyover to carry traffic in the opposite direction.
The information is published in a 2010 report on the Transport Agency’s website. The report says:
For the future eastbound connection, either [the flyover] would have to be duplicated or a tunnel under Kent and Cambridge Terraces would have to be constructed.
The Agency has since been strongly critical of the idea of a tunnel option. So this leaves us with the dreadful prospect that it will be aiming to build a second flyover alongside the first one. Unless the council, and other opponents of the flyover, succeed in stopping the structure before it’s built, and ensuring that at-ground options are developed and carried out.
The Agency’s 2010 report also provides interesting information about why the tunnel under the Memorial Park should be continuing under Taranaki Street:
Constructing a tunnel under Taranaki Street requires the relocation/diversion of a significant number of underground services. This work is likely to cost millions of dollars and take a long period of time. (months). Currently the land where the Memorial Park will be constructed is vacant which means it can be utilised for construction working space or a temporary road during construction. Once the park is constructed there is significantly less room and more extensive traffic diversions would be required…
In terms of future proofing for a westbound grade separated link, options where the tunnel ends after Taranaki Street are preferred.
However, the preferred option was not chosen. West-bound traffic coming out of the tunnel under the park will be stopped at the Taranaki Street lights. The Agency says this situation could be fixed, though with difficulty.
It is still possible, in the future, to provide a fully grade separated link if an option with a tunnel ending before Taranaki Street is constructed now, however constructing the tunnel under Taranaki Street will be more challenging since there will be less working space.
The report also looks, vaguely, at ways to move SH1 traffic out of Vivian Street. It assumes that east-bound traffic would in future somehow follow the route of the inner city bypass, but it doesn’t show any plans for this. It says an east-bound tunnel could be built under the Memorial Park. But as no preparations for such a tunnel are being made, this prospect seems to be unlikely. Leaving Vivian Street as a congested main road through the city. But that’s a more long-term concern. The immediate challenge: to ensure that the area around the Basin Reserve isn’t ruined by a concrete flyover.