Wellington Scoop

Council is told it can’t do better than the flyover, but there’ll be negative effects

News from Wellington City Council
If the NZTA’s proposed flyover goes ahead, any negative effects must be mitigated, with a strong emphasis on a 21st Century solution for the local historical and cultural significance of the Basin precinct and for all of Wellington, says Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

The mayor and Transport Portfolio Leader Andy Foster today met the NZTA Board to discuss the Council’s findings from a two-month study into alternative engineering solutions to the NZTA’s favoured flyover around the Basin Reserve.

The review by Council staff and peer-reviewed by independent traffic and urban design experts concluded that the alternative options, while providing distinct benefits, did not surpass those presented in NZTA’s Option A flyover. It also decided that the flyover needed more mitigation than initially analysed.

Councillors were briefed yesterday on the findings of the two-month study. Three options were compared: Option A of a flyover, the Architecture Centre’s tunnel design Option X, and an at-grade proposal by Richard Reid and Associates. All assumed a future duplication of the Mt Victoria Tunnel and future improvements to public transport.

“The NZTA is clearly charged by central government to provide an engineering solution, as part of the Roads of National Significance package but our focus must remain on finding the best solution for the city as a whole,” said Mayor Wade-Brown. “A strong economy, urban design, sense of place, quality of life and optimal transport outcomes are all priorities for Wellington City.

“We must have the best possible public transport through this area as immediately as possible, safer walking and cycling routes through this precinct as part of a wider city network, and the Basin Reserve and Kent / Cambridge Terraces must not be blighted by a naked block of concrete.

“Memorial Park’s development provides an opportunity to substantially enhance this area. We need to do more than put lipstick on a gorilla, we’re transforming this area’s social and cultural value, and providing a comprehensive multi-model transport approach for the benefit of the wider city.”

“Wellington is an incredibly liveable city and we’ve got to be so careful not to spoil it,” says Mayor Wade-Brown. “This week’s Quality of Life survey showed 93 percent of residents think Wellington is a great place to live, and today Hong Kong-based Professor Michael Enright ranked Wellington first for liveability in New Zealand in a major report on New Zealand’s competitiveness.

“A strong economy is more than just the movement of objects. A strong economy flows from people loving where they live, so we must strive to continuously enhance liveability.”

Councillor Foster said the council’s review was incredibly important given the deeply held concerns by the public on the adverse effects of NZTA’s flyover proposal.

“This review analysed the three major options and how they would impact on the economy; the look and feel of the city and Basin Reserve area; public transport; walking and cycling connections; traffic volumes; journey times; and how to mitigate less desirable effects,” he said.

“The review concluded that at-grade solutions didn’t stack up in transport terms. Option X produced similar transport benefits to Option A but work on assessing underground conditions and services indicated it would cost significantly more than we hoped,” he said.

“The first stage Public transport improvements need to be ready before a proposed flyover goes ahead. We have yet to see details of proposed changes inside the Basin and have suggested additional mitigation of Ellice St, on Kent and Cambridge Tces, and some rethinking about the design of the flyover itself.

“We’re also thinking of the bigger picture of the corridor between the Terrace Tunnel and the Basin, which has not delivered the best outcomes for transport through the city and to the south.”

The Mayor said there will be considerable public interest in the report, available via the Council’s website.

“There will be recommendations to the Strategy and Policy Committee outlining a number of improvements to NZTA’s preferred option,” said Mayor Wade-Brown. “We want Wellington to be a city where talent wants to live, not just pass through.”

In full: the council report on Basin options

Were they embarrassed? Secrecy at briefing on flyover options


  1. Ellie, 1. March 2013, 17:40

    This flyover is not necessary and everyone, including N Z T A, knows it. It will not contribute to Wellington as a ‘livable city’. We will look like a 1960’s joke to the international community.

  2. Driver, 1. March 2013, 17:42

    I go round the Basin Reserve several times a week – usually at “rush” hour – and have never had any significant slowing. The problem is where the motorway narrows to one lane before the Terrace Tunnel, which can add sometimes 10 minutes to my trip.

  3. A D Wright, 1. March 2013, 18:34

    First advt. under this article : “Regular Airport Parking”

  4. John Clarke, 1. March 2013, 19:16

    This is excellent news! Now we can look forward to NZTA delivering the same huge transport benefits they did with the Inner City Bypass … you know, the shorter journey times that didn’t happen, the congestion improvements that have never appeared, the reduction in traffic on the Quays that’s yet to be seen …

    In fact, if NZTA’s traffic engineers ever want a new career, Wall Street needs some people to sell dodgy derivates to financially illiterate retirees, and they’d be perfect for the role.

  5. Sue Watt, 1. March 2013, 20:55

    Oh dear. I appreciate that WCC decisions are made by the majority but this is a deeply disappointing decision. As some Councillors know, NZTA is fixated on 1970s engineers’ thinking that has no appreciation that up to now Wellington has mostly been able to keep its streets local and walker/cyclist friendly and avoided the worship of the car/truck cult that has destroyed Auckland and Tauranga. This ugly, concrete, alien flyover will destroy our local streets and heritage for the sake of a few people who have to wait a bit longer in their cars (mostly by themselves) at peak hours. I walk, bus, drive through this area a lot and have hardly ever had to wait anywhere. Shame on the majority of WCC councillors for such short-term and destructive thinking; I expected better of you.

  6. M. Baber, 1. March 2013, 22:22

    If the council can’t do better than the flyover, then perhaps we’d best all be better off if they did nothing at all. This panic to remove a few minutes travel time at such expense is illogical, and just smacks of interventionism for its own sake. Please councillors, try to find priorities and projects that are less monolithic with less possible downside. This is a boondoggle disaster just waiting to happen.

  7. Celia WB, 2. March 2013, 9:12

    Dear commentators

    We examined alternative engineering/roading solutions because those are what NZTA is mandated to deliver.

    Many of us think far more attention should be given to cycling, walking, lower bus fares, incentives for different work/school starting times. If central government changes before the flyover is begun, or the EPA turns it down, there may be a change of heart in NZTA.

    Council has NOT approved nor dis-approved the flyover, just accepted advice that says two other options have significant difficulties. Others may look at the report over the next weeks and see something we’ve missed.

    Meanwhile, if the flyover gets built, our duty is to ameliorate what can be ameliorated and ensure north/south bus lanes open on day one.

    The report’s conclusions weren’t what I’d hoped for – nor the majority of Councillors who preferred undergrounding.

    So we’d better get on with the cycle network improvements, reducing wait times for pedestrians and other actions under control of Council.

  8. Trevor, 2. March 2013, 15:45

    If we are to have a flyover, let’s open the design to international entries and try for a beautiful one such as the Jerusalem Chords bridge ( for light rail and pedestrians/ cyclists rather than the butt ugly one reminiscent of east Bloc 60s style. Bridges can be made to reflect what’s good.

  9. Curtis Nixon, 2. March 2013, 22:23

    Mitigations? Like Manners Mall was a mitigation for the motorway extension. Don’t trust NZTA, they give with one hand and take with the other.
    The construction and roading businesses are deeply entrenched in our economy and the (legal) payoffs to government make proper roading decisions impossible. Who pays the piper picks the tune.

  10. Londoner, 3. March 2013, 19:34

    Mitigation? There’s no way to mitigate the endless soul-destroying noise that comes down from traffic on a concrete bridge above the ground. It’s like a roar or a rumble from the sky, and it can provoke anxiety for anyone in the neighbourhood. No need to point out that walking under any flyover is a most unpleasant experience, also. And then there’s the fact that it’ll be looming in view across two main thoroughfares, 24 hours a day. Till it’s demolished and the viewshaft is restored.

  11. Lindsay, 3. March 2013, 20:30

    The Transport Agency admitted in 2011 that there’ll be noise from the flyover if they’re allowed to build it. The idea of using a new grandstand to block noise from the Basin Reserve was attacked by the Architectural Centre, which said any new building would cut off the cricket ground from the city.

  12. Sridhar, 4. March 2013, 8:24

    “If …the EPA turns it down, there may be a change of heart in NZTA”.

    Unfortunately EPA is headed by none other than Kerry Prendergast who is a nominee of the current govt because a) she was jobless after being dumped in the last local council elections, and b) she is a national party member anyway. Also she is a close pal of Fran Wilde.

    I am not the religious type, but feel the urge to say “Even god will not be able to save Wellington”, when this place is filled with people with antiquated ideas.

    We need to strengthen Celia WB’s position and have more people like her in this region.

  13. Richard Benge, 4. March 2013, 15:50

    Look at the damage done to Sydney’s cityscape with the Cahill Expressway/Circular Quay overpass. Look at the expressways over Bangkok that disrespect religious buildings or heritage precincts to produce zones for slums and rubbish. A similar flyover beside the Basin Reserve completely disrespects that historic precinct and the people of Wellington. It is not a plan for sustainable transport options.

  14. BD, 4. March 2013, 23:15

    So we should just accept the fact that a 1960’s fly-over is the only alternative?
    I live in Auckland and walk past the Victoria Park Market Viaduct and wish they had torn it down when they decided to build the tunnels. In fact there are future plans to remove it. It’s essentially the same thing as the one the NZTA want to build in Wellington – the capital city would be foolish to let the Government manipulate us into a half-baked solution at the cost of blighting the city’s landscape forever.

  15. Ed Sainsbury, 10. March 2013, 20:24

    Option X better utilises the present and future level differences, with much less intrusion into the city scapes. Extending the Buckle Street tunnel (presently under construction) eastward to allow Sussex Street to cross over it via a short bridge (similar to Ghuznee Street crossing the Bypass) seems so logical that it has to be seriously considered.