Wellington Scoop

Council reconfirms opposition to Basin flyover, wants an alternative option

The Wellington City Council last night reconfirmed its opposition to Transport Agency plans to build a flyover at the Basin Reserve.

Councillors agreed (by 8 votes to 7) that Mayor Wade-Brown and transport portfolio leader Andy Foster should meet the government to discuss the council’s continuing preference to seek an alternative option to the flyover. “We haven’t got anywhere with the Transport Agency,” said Councillor Foster. “But the Memorial Park decision (instructing the Agency to put the road underground) shows that changes can be made by politicians.”

Councillors also agreed to spend $50,000 from existing budgets to explore alternative non-flyover transport solutions around the Basin Reserve. “We have to find out if the other options will fly,” said Councillor Foster.

All councillors attended last night’s meeting, which began at 10.05pm after being postponed from its advertised starting time of 4pm. All councillors spoke – eight giving reasons why they didn’t like the flyover, and seven saying they wanted the flyover to be built.

Andy Foster moved six recommendations which were all passed at the end of the 60-minute meeting.

He said the council’s relationship with the Transport Agency no longer felt like a partnership, which was how it was originally described. He said the council shouldn’t support any project unless it liked the urban design. Referring to the vote in October last year, he said: “We said we didn’t like the flyover, the public said the same.”

Cr Iona Pannett: “The flyover has few friends. It will be a scar on the city. There is overwhelming opposition from my Mt Victoria community. But the Agency doesn’t want to listen.”

Cr Brian Pepperell: “I don’t support the flyover. The design has always troubled me. It would make our unique and beautiful city begin to look like just any other place where they’ve got things wrong.”

Cr Stephanie Cook: “The flyover has clearly been rejected by the public.”

Mayor Wade-Brown said there had been agreement on the need for grade separation of north-south traffic, and the council was wanting to find an acceptable solution.

Cr Helene Ritchie: “I am very concerned about the landscape of our city. The Thorndon overbridge gives us a warning.”

Cr Paul Eagle: “We have a duty to be fully informed about all the options. I’m not anti-car or anti-roads but the government has failed to listen to Wellingtonians.”

Cr Justin Lester: “The flyover has significant urban design issues. The location is not suitable for a flyover.”

Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon was one of a minority of seven councillors who supported the flyover. He said investigation of other options had been robust, and the flyover would bring a positive economic impact by creating new jobs and reducing congestion.

Cr Ngaire Best felt the recommendations were “a proposal to delay progress.” Cr Ray Ahipene-Mercer said he didn’t believe there were any other options. Cr Swampy Marsh said Option X “didn’t stack up.” Councillor Leonie Gill said the flyover would benefit drivers from the eastern suburbs. Councillor John Morrison told his colleagues: “Some of you don’t want any cars or any roads. . . It would be ludicrous to explore more options.” Councillor Jo Coughlan agreed. “It’s the bridge or nothing…We’ve got to have infrastructure so we can continue to be internationally competitive.”

The four other recommendations agreed by councillors last night were:

* To request the Transport Agency to confirm in writing that it will not proceed with a Notice of Requirement to the relevant authority for the Ngauranga to Airport corridor plan components without council support for the flyover;

* To note receipt of a letter from Geoff Dangerfield, chief executive of the Transport Agency, regarding this extraordinary meeting. (Councillors were given a copy of the letter; it was not given to the media)

* The Council agree to decide its support for the flyover once the additional work referred to in the second recommendation has been done.

* Without resiling from the position in the first five recommendations, the Council will continue to work with the Transport Agency on mitigation options and proposals for the flyover.

Read also
Cr Ahipene-Mercer sees “sabotage … lunacy” among his colleagues
NZTA wants not one but two flyovers


  1. Sridhar, 20. December 2012, 7:05

    Good work council. Keep it up. Mayor Brown and her colleagues who opposed the flyover should be given full credit for this.

    I hope the councillors who support this nonsense are able to understand the reason and accept the reality – unless they want to remain on their path of self-destruction.

  2. Maximus, 20. December 2012, 8:08

    Sounds sensible to me… When buying a new car, wouldn’t you want to check out what models are available, other than just taking the word of the car dealer that this is the only car made, and it only ever comes in grey? You walk down the block, and – ooh look, a nicer car, and it is a different colour, and it costs less!

  3. Alana, 20. December 2012, 9:02

    And NZTA continues to ignore the change of circumstances resulting from the government’s decision to build the road in a cut-and-cover trench under the War Memorial Park – which makes an at-grade option like Option X more practical and less costly than a noisy, ugly flyover.

  4. Chris, 20. December 2012, 10:50

    Congratulations to the councillors who sensibly voted for alternative options to be considered rather than supporting the drastic and flawed NZTA solution to traffic around the Basic Reserve.

  5. Nora, 20. December 2012, 11:17

    Well done those councillors who listened to Wellingtonians….I am a car owner, I also ride the buses, and walk around our walkable city. Over the years I have enjoyed cricket at the Basin and have great memories of all the other entertainment that used to be there, like soccer, marching girls, school sports. For these and other reasons I am totally opposed to the flyover with the noise and pollution it would cause and which most cities in the world are pulling down. For those who are in a hurry, suggest they leave home a little earlier to get to the airport or join the truckies and go via Oriental/Evans Bay.

  6. paul bruce, 20. December 2012, 15:46

    NZTA justifies the flyover by noting benefits to public transport, when its primary purpose is to facilitate vehicle movement eastwards (one way). The negative impacts of new induced traffic on Wellington’s streets will easily override any small advantage to public transport (PT), whereas the equivalent expenditure ($100 million) on attractive PT and safe cycle ways would result in some commuters leaving their cars at home with resultant benefits to everybody!

  7. Nick, 20. December 2012, 18:41

    It really is sad seeing councillors towing the line of effectively a Transport Agency dictatorship. We’re New Zealanders and we should be doing the best we can to get the best outcome for this city. McKinnon, Wilde and Co are jeopardising this city’s future, not the people who want to wait and rethink our options.

  8. Liz S, 20. December 2012, 18:46

    Thank you Wellington city councillors! Apart from the health costs of the flyover, aesthetically it was going to slice apart our city and ruin the lovely Basin which is an oasis for walkers and cyclists. Have a relaxing Christmas and thank you for listening to Wellingtonians and reason, not the ideological fixation of the NZ Transport Agency.

  9. Paula Warren, 20. December 2012, 19:04

    There have been alternatives to the flyover around for a long time. Trouble is, NZTA didn’t want to look at them, and ran a totally sham process in deciding that they wanted their “bridge”. And now that the councillors have finally had the guts to say “surely we can do better,” Mr Dangerfield has threatened to take all his toys out of the sandpit and play on his own.

    And surely we can do better. The flyover will cost $100m (or rather is estimated to cost $100m, which means it will cost a lot more), while the alternatives I’ve seen both cost less. In one case a lot less (like around $1m). The flyover addresses only two of the four agreed (by NZTA as well) corridor plan objectives, and will be damaging to the other objectives. The alternatives I’ve seen both address all four objectives.

    It’s time NZTA went back to designing transport projects with high benefit cost ratio (the Kapiti Expressway has reached a new low of 0.2) that actually do the job needed, and gave up their fixation on building a few uneconomic roads because someone somewhere thought it was a nice idea.

  10. John M, 20. December 2012, 21:49

    The someone who “thinks this is a nice idea” is Stephen Joyce, the quiet dictator of this National administration. All these roads are his misbegotten children. Somehow he has managed to convince his cabinet colleagues, though perhaps people like Gerry Brownlee needed little persuading, that this cash-strapped country could forge its way into a prosperous new century carrying with it the baggage of the last. Canal builders in the UK in the early 1800s thought much the same thing. They bankrupted themselves and nearly the entire country.

  11. Gavin McG, 22. December 2012, 0:39

    Thank you, the flyover is a horrible idea, thank you so much for opposing it and protecting our wonderful city. Merry Christmas and keep up the good fight

  12. Peter M, 22. December 2012, 9:28

    I think out of all the Roads of National Significance projects, the Wellington Northern Corridor is probably the worst – for a variety of reasons:
    Wellington’s population is hardly growing so there is unlikely to be massive future demand for transport improvements, unlike Auckland which may grow by up to a million extra people over the next 30 years.
    The cost-benefit ratios for sections of the Wellington RoNS are simply terrible: 0.6 for Transmission Gully and 0.2 for the Kapiti Expressway.
    The urban impact of many sections of the Wellington RoNS are horrific, with the Basin Reserve flyover being the worst example of this.