Wellington Scoop

Nick Leggett’s slap down

The mayor of Porirua has decided, unwisely, to be his own publicist. Unfortunately for him, the news release which he sent us last night (and which we published unedited) shows that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Nick Leggett’s report tells us that he moved a resolution at yesterday’s meeting of the Regional Transport Committee and as a result the committee “slapped down” a decision of the Wellington City Council. (The pre-Christmas decision, by eight votes to seven, resolved to explore alternatives to the Basin Reserve flyover.)

He next tells us how the committee achieved its slap down:

“By resolving its support for grade separation and a bridge over the Basin Reserve.” This raises some questions. In what way was this support resolved? What bridge over the Basin Reserve is he thinking about? Why does he believe that the mayors of Porirua and Upper Hutt (Wayne Guppy seconded his resolution) must contradict a majority decision of elected Wellington councillors?

Porirua’s young leader explains that the slap down, supported (one assumes) by an unspecified number of regional transport committee members including Fran Wilde, will ‘elevate’ the Basin project to one of ‘regional importance.’ A downward elevation – he’s forgotten that the government has categorised it as part of a road of national importance. But he’s worried about Hutt and Porirua people getting to the airport:

“Movement from SH1 through the Wellington CBD to the Airport, Hospital and Eastern Suburbs is significant for residents of the Hutt, Porirua, Kapiti and North Wellington”

No one would disagree with that. But then he states that the bridge (the Transport Agency’s flyover) is “the only immediate option.” Beware, Nick Leggett! If you’re planning to take the flyover to get to the airport or to the eastern suburbs, you’re in for a dreadful surprise. Because the flyover, if it’s built, will carry traffic in the opposite direction, away from the airport and away from the eastern suburbs. You’ll have a terrible accident if you try to use it to drive east.

Mr Leggett, one of the country’s youngest mayors, doesn’t acknowledge that SH1 traffic through the Wellington CBD to the airport and the eastern suburbs will not in any way by helped by spending $90m on a flyover. All the east-bound traffic will continue to be funnelled through the stop-start Vivian Street, and will have to queue up to get through the ancient Mt Victoria Tunnel. Nevertheless he thinks the flyover will somehow help him to get to the airport. And he makes it clear that if he was a Wellington city councillor he would have voted against the decision to explore other options. His final sentence is unfortunate. Like the rest of his news release, it seems to have been dashed off without any checking. He writes:

“It’s an irresponsible position when such a significant project that can alleviate congestion for so many Wellington residents.” Work that one out.

Advice to Nick Leggett. Get an experienced writer to create your next news release. If you insist on being your own publicist, check your facts before you start writing.

And a question for Andy Foster and the Wellington City Council group who are exploring alternatives to the flyover – how does it feel to have been slapped down by Nick Leggett and Wayne Guppy?


  1. Josh, 14. February 2013, 8:26

    I see the campaign against the flyover has now been reduced to personal attacks.

    Bit of a pedantic opinion piece this – yes, we all know the flyover is one way. That’s not to say that the airport journey won’t be improved, which more often than not involves a return leg.

  2. Rufus Sixsmith, 14. February 2013, 8:46

    The only thing Mr Leggett achieved was to give himself a good slapping!

  3. Traveller, 14. February 2013, 11:02

    Wellington needs to find a way to slap down the pro-flyover campaigning of Nick Leggett, Fran Wilde and Wayne Guppy.

  4. erentz, 14. February 2013, 13:37

    Traveller: a good way to slap back would be to put a cordon toll on all vehicles entering Wellington City coming down the motorways from Porirua and the Hutt. Then use that money to fund light rail and/or a full tunnel for SH1. (This will never be allowed of course.)

  5. Guy, 14. February 2013, 14:06

    Not wanting to get into an argument over whether or not something is a slap or not… but perhaps the most pertinent thing to point out to the mayor of Porirua is that the greatest benefits of any grade separation at the Basin Reserve (whether by Option A or by Option X), is that the local, north-south traffic between Kent/Cambridge Tce and Adelaide Road, gets sped up in both directions, but particularly north-bound. Thanks for that Nick ! The locals of Newtown salute you! No change for Porirua though.

    Traffic east bound to the Airport will get absolutely Zero increase in speed unless / until a second tunnel is built. You will still be using Vivian St, and the same route, with exactly the same issues. So no change there.

    Traffic west bound from the airport will still get held up by traffic lights at Taranaki St, Cuba St, Victoria St, and Willis St just the same as before. Get the picture?

    If Mr Leggett really wants a super speedy route to the airport, then there is only ever going to be one way: a train in a protected traffic free route. Commonly known as a tunnel. Perhaps he could get together with Fran Wilde and campaign for that.

  6. Polly, 14. February 2013, 16:26

    There was a good article in The Listener about Nick Leggett and how well he worked with the various members around the Porirua Council table; the city took priority not politics. However there was also the suggestion re “super city” plans that Fran Wilde would be the Mayor and Nick Leggett her Deputy so perhaps he has started his campaign with Fran with this support for the flyover.

  7. Mark, 14. February 2013, 20:45

    Nick Leggett also believes that having a bypass past Porirua (Transmission Gully) will be to the economic benefit of Porirua. I suspect he swallows talking points without checking them for accuracy.

  8. Curtis Nixon, 15. February 2013, 3:10

    I blame Valentine’s Day for all the slapping!
    But seriously, with the two local government panics of late we are seeing a reaction to Celia Wade-Brown progressive, eco-friendly style. The dinosaur brigade can’t stomach reason, inclusion or change beyond their high-constrained parameters. It is interesting to see a split. We must always be building for the future but look at the subways and trams of the world – rail is the way to move lots of people quickly and cleanly. Maglev trains are the ultimate. Not concrete flyovers.

  9. Robert, 15. February 2013, 14:16

    What a rubbish article! I can’t believe the partisan reporting on this site, it is appalling, and I shall not bother reading Scoop again. Anyone who is rational should know that there is no realistic and viable alternative to the bridge apart from do nothing. Sure we can do nothing and watch traffic congestion grow and reliability on public transport decrease. But if we want to improve wither of these then change is needed.

  10. Lindsay, 15. February 2013, 14:40

    Robert: there are alternatives and they are currently being investigated by rational people not only at the WCC but also at the NZTA.

  11. Curtis Nixon, 16. February 2013, 0:45

    Robert, there is a rush hour traffic jam coming out of Buckle St for about half an hour. The flyover will speed traffic from the Mt Vic tunnel to the traffic jam. Vehicles will back up on the flyover, thus creating an aerial traffic eyesore.
    The uberbridge is a classic bureaucrats’ pie-in-the-sky unwanted answer to a non-existent problem. If we want to increase capacity, add extra lanes around the Basin at ground level.

  12. Graeme, 21. February 2013, 13:03

    Well said, Guy.
    Sadly, The horse bolted when the opportunity to achieve grade separation when building the ‘bypass” karo Drive & approach to the Mt Vic Tunnell was lost. Undercutting the spots where lights are now at Willis, Cuba and Taranaki Sts would have given the chance for real improvements in traffic flow, instead of the utter mess we have to live with now. We now know that this big “solution” was in fact a waste of much effort and Money. Its hard to blame any one person for that, but if you did have to choose one it would be the councillor who initally supported a subterranian east-west bypass but changed his mind – and the crucial vote – in the middle of the final debate. And that was the counciller with the poorest judgement of the lot of them – Cr. Andy Foster. Shame on him; he has so much to answer for……

  13. andy foster, 22. February 2013, 7:58

    actually Graeme – I think you are rewriting a bit of history there !
    What was on the table then was not undergrounding but a four lane (and add turning bays too) two way, at grade road. (ie on the surface) Given that one of the things we wanted to avoid as much as possible was severance eg for pedestrians walking from places like Brooklyn, Aro Valley, Mt Cook etc into the city and home again. So no I did not support that.

    An underground option would have been much much better, and still would in my view – and yes that question has been raised several times and continues to be a live issue. In my view also Memorial Park undergrounding should be built wide enough to accommodate 4 lanes should that be required in the future – a lot lot cheaper and less disruptive than building a second tunnel.

    In terms of history remember that funding when the existing bypass was built was much more limited. Remember that the money available for transport projects (and I mean national level funding) was really constrained until the Government agreed to ‘full hypothecation’ in late 2007. In simple terms that means that something like half (from memory) of the money from petrol taxes, RUC etc went directly into the Government Consolidated Fund – ie not to transport. Obviously that meant that the scale of projects being constructed now was simply impossible then (and that would lie behind periodic observations about historic underfunding of transport infrastructure). Undergrounding was certainly discussed but from a funding point of view was simply not on the table. If I can end with a quote from the Environment Court considering the matter, I think (stand to be corrected on the exact context) it was in the context of declining the retention of designations to allow future undergrounding ‘There is an air of unreality about it (undergrounding)’

  14. Guy, 23. February 2013, 10:26

    It’s good to see Councilor Foster leaping in here to defend himself – and good to see an explanation of the situation regarding the Bypass. I’m not sure if Karo Drive ever really made sense on paper, although it certainly seems to be a complete cock-up in real life, if it is meant to achieve a speeding up of traffic flow. The lack of grade separation at the intersection with Victoria and Willis…. if one or both of these had been able to sail over Karo Drive instead of clashing with it, then SH1 traffic would be able to move much faster. As it is, at peak hour, everything is tied up in knots.

    It would be an easy enough diversion to make, even at this stage of the game, but would involve tens of millions, and probably about 2 years of traffic diversions, to lower Karo Drive so that it zips under Victoria and Willis. I wonder if NZTA will ever have the urge to do it?

    But the similarities with the Basin Reserve are strong. At neither place is there a huge problem, just traffic grinding to a halt at peak hour, as local traffic wanting to get home clashes with motorway bound traffic wanting to get out. And in Wellington, peak hour barely lasts an hour, unlike Auckland, where it lasts for three hours. A lot of work for such a short time saving.

  15. insider, 26. February 2013, 22:04

    @ guy – Karo and Buckle streets are feeders for central Wellington. They are not a throughway.

    Separation at Willis would need either significant widening to cater for slip lanes or a major change in traffic management for the whole southern central city. Go under Willis and you probably have to go under Victoria St as they are so close which, with the loss of Tory St access, would make Taranaki St almost all that’s left.

    Ps nick leggett is probably keen on grade separation because he has seen how effective it is in Porirua. Anyone want to go back to an at grade Mungavin Ave?

  16. Guy, 27. February 2013, 8:24

    Insider – thanks. Yes, I agree that as they are, they act as feeders – but as their primary purpose is to feed the motorway on ramp, they would work so much better if they were allowed to do that. So, under Willis and Victoria they should go – the levels would work quite well for that – did you guys at NZTA plan for that to happen in some future year?
    The issue, as I am sure you are well aware, is that the local, north-south traffic is totally snarled up at going-home time. The streets are so close to each other at that point that it is just not working – no time between light changes to get a significant number of cars across the intersection. Chaos and shortened tempers every day. Bad design. There is no single route that locals can take that avoid the clash with pre-motorway traffic. I’m presuming that this is a bad thing, unless you intentionally planned it that way. The only good thing about a totally snarled up city intersection is that pedestrians can walk across a blocked intersection, which does have the effect of speeding up pedestrian flows, even if it is inelegant. But I am presuming that long term, there must be a plan to change it and put the Karo Drive intersections at Willis/Victoria underground?

  17. traveller, 27. February 2013, 8:30

    Insider: Most of the traffic on Buckle Street and Karo Drive goes straight ahead into the Terrace Tunnel. Only a small proportion turns off into the city.