Wellington Scoop

Don’t mention it’s 9m high and 380m long

flyover sunbathers

The Dominion Post has today succeeded in writing an editorial in support of the Basin Reserve flyover, without mentioning what it’ll look like.

The editorial writer (an ex-employee of the NZTA?) says it’s “nonsense” for the Wellington City Council to investigate alternatives to the flyover, and a “complete waste of time” to investigate the Richard Reid plan. It acknowledges however that it hasn’t seen the plan. There’s no doubt whose side the DomPost is on.

So let’s remind the newspaper what it’s being so enthusiastic about: a concrete bridge nine metres high and 380 metres long, running from St Joseph’s Church across and above Kent and Cambridge Terraces along the northern boundary of the Basin Reserve to Sussex Street.

There are many reality checks that the DomPost needs to make about flyovers. In Auckland, for example, there’s a flyover near a cricket ground on Victoria Park.


It was built in the 1960s. Enough to put you off flyovers for life. There’s worse.


Aucklanders have always hated this flyover in Lower Hobson Street. So much that last year their new Council decided to pull it down.

And Aucklanders are aware of what Wellington is being threatened with at the Basin Reserve. Joshua Arbury on the Auckland Transport blog: This is an iconic part of Wellington that is going to be completely ruined. The Basin is easily New Zealand’s most iconic cricket ground and is a massive landmark for the city. The long vistas along Cambridge and Kent Terraces, looking towards the cricket ground are going to be ruined completely.


Arbury’s comments on these drawings from the Transport Agency: These kinds of drawings always under-estimate the adverse impact of big structures (notice how the viaduct doesn’t cast much of a shadow) so in reality the roadway is going to look unbelievably horrific.


Wellington of course has enough ugly flyovers. Here’s a notoriously awful one around the Interislander wharf.


And the Transport Agency doesn’t have a good record for keeping graffiti off its Ngauranga flyover. But it wants us to believe that it’ll do better if it builds a flyover at the Basin.

The DomPost’s boosterism ignores the fact that the $90m Basin flyover will do nothing to help drivers get from the airport into town more rapidly. The one-way flyover will carry eastbound traffic from the Mt Victoria Tunnel into the Memorial Park Tunnel, which will stop at the traffic lights at Taranaki Street. There’ll still be traffic lights at Victoria Street and Cuba Street and Willis Street. The flyover will do nothing to stop each intersection being a pinch point, as now. As for west-bound traffic – it’ll continue to stop and start at every Vivian Street intersection and every traffic light on Kent Terrace.

What else is wrong with the DomPost’s posturing? It says flyover “alternatives have been extensively investigated.” But it’s wrong. The Transport Agency’s critique of Option X was written before the decision to put SH1 into a tunnel under Memorial Park, so it’s more than a year out of date. As for the Richard Reid plan, the Agency hasn’t investigated it at all.

Then there’s the editorial’s claim that “the council has already decided to support the flyover.” Not true. The council voted in October last year to tell the Agency that the flyover wasn’t wanted. And as for what the public wants (something the DomPost chooses not to mention), the Agency did its best to suppress opposition, with its consultation offering a choice of a flyover or a flyover. Nevertheless, public opposition continues to be heard, loudly and clearly.


  1. Trevor, 24. December 2012, 8:57

    Whilst walking along Buckle Street yesterday ,a horrible truth dawned on me. With the flyover or any other traffic-mitigating solution at the Basin, the traffic jam will move along to the next bottleneck. This will be at the Buckle Street tunnel’s junction with Taranaki Street which is traffic light controlled. The queue formed there will grow from the current length, which can take 2 phases of the lights for a vehicle to clear through, to longer. This will not be on the surface as at present but UNDERGROUND. Very unpleasant with fumes, fire risk etc. This will become the most “at risk” tunnel in Wellington. It would make good sense to extend the tunnel under Taranaki Street so there is at least Arthur Street in the open before the next bottleneck of Cuba Street. Rephasing the lights at Taranaki Street may help a bit, but that would increase the bottleneck on Upper Taranaki Street that forms in the evening rush hour of cars coming from Newtown. This currently laps back to Bidwill Street. I have not heard NZTA discuss this issue apart from a position paper of 2 years ago in a different context.

  2. Guy, 28. December 2012, 9:54

    You’re right, but it’s not the end of the world. NZTA have said that they would prefer to take the tunnel under Taranaki St, but it would be very costly. There are a lot of services under there, and I think there is an underground stream as well. While traffic would flow better under Taranaki, it would then just get held up at Victoria or Willis instead. Arguably at least one of those roads should be separated – to help traffic congestion – but it’s all a question of money – how much do you really want to spend? Personally, I’d rather spend the money on a decent Light Rail track to the Airport.

  3. Stan Andis, 1. January 2013, 9:25

    While everyone is calling this structure a “flyover,” NZTA continue to use the term “bridge” in describing it. Perhaps NZTA can make an announcement as to the correct terminology. At the same time perhaps it can include comments as to how changes were made to its design as a result of the public consultation process. NZTA should also explain how this structure will alleviate bumper to bumper traffic congestion from Evans Bay to the Mt Vic tunnel during peak hour flows.

  4. Pauline, 1. January 2013, 11:25

    World famous urban design specialist Jan Gehl who was commissioned by WCC in 2004 came up with many recommendations regarding traffic, pedestrian priorities, alternative transport, improved links to the waterfront etc., very few of which were put into practice. When he was invited to Christchurch in 2010 he was interviewed on “contentious” capital issues and the Basin Reserve Flyover was one – he said “Freeways and flyovers have had their period and 21st Century traffic solutions are more sensitive to their environment.”

  5. The City is Ours Inc., 1. January 2013, 13:13

    Urban Design Professor Jan Gehl in the same report to council said this about jay walking; “The jay walking culture is … not a sign of … less well-behaved pedestrians, but merely a sign of a traffic system which is not laid out to meet pedestrian requirements for short waiting periods at lights and easily accessible crossings at level.

  6. Vurtigo, 1. January 2013, 21:19

    The flyover option is just wrong on so many levels (pun intended). Selecting it is incredibly short sighted. Let’s lobby long and hard to ensure it cannot go ahead.

  7. Joanna, 10. January 2013, 17:49

    The ‘prettified’ and false artistic impression produced by NZTA highlights a fact that is little known by Mt Victoria residents (and, for that matter, visitors to schools, churches etc), namely that construction of the flyover will result in closure of Ellice Street. It will no longer be possible to exit Mt Victoria from the bottom of Ellice Street. Even less widely known is the fact that the NZTA proposal presented to the public in 2011 also sees the bottom of Pirie Street closed off, leaving only TWO exits from Mt Victoria – Elizabeth and Majoribanks Streets. Is this safe? What will be the impact on the other very narrow residential streets?

  8. lindsay, 17. January 2013, 19:33

    The DomPost have done it again. An editorial today again condemns the city council’s investigation of alternative roading plans (which has only just started) and repeats the false claim that the council “reneged” on previous support for a flyover. It’s enough to make you think that the DomPost employs Transport Agency staff as its editorial writers.

  9. Guy, 17. January 2013, 22:16

    Agreed. From memory, the Council made it 100% clear in late 2011, that they had weighed up both Option A and Option B, both of those flyovers, and they rejected both those options, and said that they would prefer neither. Instead, if anything had to be done, they would prefer a tunnel. But if they absolutely had to, with no other alternative, then Option A was the least bad option, when compared to Option B. So how can that be misconstrued as support for a flyover? That’s agreeing to something with a gun at your head.

  10. Trish, 19. January 2013, 20:25

    Even NZTA cannot believe WCC has changed its position on the flyover. In their August 2012 report “Summary of option selection process for improvements around the Basin reserve” NZTA recorded (p7):

    “WCC and GWRC each advises their preferences for Option A. It is noted however that WCC also advised that it preferred an east-west tunnel rather than a bridge and the Council considered Option A would require more mitigation than what was shown as proposed by the NZTA at the time (ie mid 2011).”

    Hobson’s choice between Option A and Option B was no choice at all. “Consistency’ would be the word the DomPost should have been looking for.