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

flyover sunbathers [1]

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.

vic-532x400 [2]

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

hobson-viaduct [3]

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: [4] 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.

basin-flyover [5]

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.

Thorndon-Flyover2_gallery_lge [6]

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

Ngauranga_railway_station_02 [7]

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 [8] 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.