No one – well, almost no one – could be critical of the plan to put State Highway 1 into a tunnel under the new War Memorial Park. It would have been absurd to have the main road running between our National War Memorial and the new sandstone sculpture to be built by the Australians.
The decision to extend the tunnel under the Tory Street/Tasman Street intersection is another logical decision. So why isn’t the tunnel also being extended under Taranaki Street?
All day and every day you can see the red lights stopping west-bound traffic on the temporary Buckle Street highway which is being used while the cutting and covering is being done. Assuming that the project is completed on time – no pressure? – the same red lights will be stopping the same traffic, which will then be backing up into the new tunnel. If the tunnel was extended, the traffic could move under Taranaki Street unimpeded. It would also be a big improvement for the north-south stop-start drivers endlessly waiting on Taranaki Street. But of course the vehicles on SH1 would still face more lights – at Cuba Street and Victoria Street Willis Street.
All of which is a reminder that the bypass is a failure. It’s an ineffectual version of a state highway, a narrow stop-start road which has almost destroyed the neighbourhood of upper Cuba Street and has almost certainly destroyed upper Willis Street.
A recent comment on wellington.scoop suggests the Transport Agency knows that the Buckle Street tunnel should be extended under Taranaki Street.
But it’s all political, of course. Politicians made the correct decision that it would be wrong to have State Highway One traffic running through the Memorial Park. But at the same time they should have made the decision that it is equally wrong to have State Highway One traffic running across Taranaki Street.
Not forgetting the Basin Reserve.
A small eastern extension of the Memorial Park tunnel would result in the cancellation of the appalling flyover,, and the creation of the Option X plan which would keep road changes on the level and would add new green space for cyclists and pedestrians. At a cost, which we are assured by the Option X people, which would be much less than the flyover. Saving money – that should appeal to the politicians.