Wellington Scoop

Andy, what were you thinking?

by Mary Varnham
Isn’t it time the Wellington City Council stopped letting the NZ Transport Agency and the mayor of Porirua call the shots on the urban design of our city?

I haven’t met a Wellingtonian who doesn’t think the Basin flyover is a ludicrous idea – ugly, old-fashioned, and in contravention of all modern transport thinking.

Around here we call the roading policy of the government, aided and abetted by the Transport Agency, ‘Roads of National Stupidity’.

Wellington is a small, compact city and every bad urban design is a blight forever, as witness the appalling siting of New World Chaffers, which the city council allowed to block the glorious views that used to be had from Cambridge Terrace, Wellington’s only grand avenue to the harbour. Now the view is rubbish bins at the back of a graceless building.

If the flyover goes ahead, the view at the other end of the avenue will be graffitied concrete posts.

Andy, what were you thinking? If the Transport Agency gets its knickers in a twist and refuses to fund more roading projects in the city, great. Who wants a large section of the Town Belt destroyed by completely unnecessary widening of Ruahine Street? Who wants historic Kilbirnie houses demolished so people can get to the airport 15 seconds sooner?

Stats show a continuing drop in car use in NZ. Imagine if this money were redirected to light rail from the CBD to the airport.

Read also:
Who, or what, changed Andy’s mind?


  1. Cr Paul Bruce, 24. March 2013, 20:10

    Great contribution Mary.

    The tragedy is that, in this time of continuing recession and high commodity prices, we need to make sure that every dollar invested contributes to long term resiliency. The Basin Reserve Flyover is part of a package of 450 million (2008) dollars for new roads (and cars) that doesn’t do that. Instead it would encourage increased use of private vehicles into our inner streets.

    Meanwhile the Wellington Regional Council is proceeding with a Bus Review that is cost neutral. At the same time, no funding is being allocated to implementing a high capacity mode such as modern light rail, which could provide mobility for double the numbers along the growth spine and within the CBD together with a reduction in traffic and congestion, a win win for everybody.

    Freiberg is a German city very comparable to Wellington in population in both the central city, hinterland, and in relative wealth and car ownership. It has adopted a different strategy. Its biggest economic wellbeing gains are from removing vehicles from the central city, and its business is booming with more people spending more time in town. Excellent segregated cycleways criss-cross the city.

    However, it is Freiberg’s provision of an integrated public transport of buses and modern light rail on the arterials, run with lower fares and less than half the subsidy of Wellington’s system, that provides the alternative to the Transport Agency’s 20th century roading extravaganza.

  2. Cr Daran Ponter, 24. March 2013, 23:23

    Mary, Mary, come back to the Council. Wellington needs you!

  3. Elaine Hampton, 25. March 2013, 10:24

    Andy really needs to explain himself. What was he thinking?
    His legacy of the “Foster’s Flyover” is not something that will enhance his mana in this city. The Transport Agency will be pleased with him though!

  4. Brent Efford, 25. March 2013, 21:52

    A great comment from Paul – but the real fault lies with the culture created by central Government.
    You only have to go back a few years to when there was an Urban Design Protocol, and public servants were actually allowed to refer to “sustainability” in their advice (now it is outlawed).
    The current Government has a fetish for anti-environmentalism. The most environmentally destructive option for any policy always seems to be that which is chosen – whether it is RONS + destruction of rail transport, a “pollute our way to prosperity” energy policy, “right to pollute” agriculture, enforced urban sprawl in the cause of “housing affordability” (ignoring the costs of time, transport and infrastructure, of course) or simply sacking DoC staff.
    No doubt John Key, on his current selling trip to China, will refer to our environment as somehow a trade asset for this country. What a hypocrite!

  5. Jack Ruben, 30. March 2013, 10:58

    Andy, I, amongst many others, thought that you would be the voice of reason against the pressures of the cabal intent on permanently ruining the Basin Reserve – for whatever reason. Instead of using your vote to help prevent the flyover, you obviously capitulated at the critical moment, so virtually ensuring the flyover will be built. Why? You have damaged your reputation. As one of your constituents, I advise you to quit local government politics now.

  6. The City is Ours Inc., 30. March 2013, 16:51

    Paul: all we need as far as public transport is concerned is a functional, affordable outer route from the railway station to the suburbs – then pedestrianize the Golden Mile once and for all.
    A central city apartment survey in 2009 established that the most common mode of travel to work or study for 73% of survey respondents is walking – and 78% do their grocery shopping in the central city. That’s the 12.000 inner city residents.

  7. Liz, 4. April 2013, 14:32

    Here in Hong Kong, between my hotel and Victoria Park on Causeway Bay, are several car and bus flyovers and a very complicated series of pedestrian walkways to get over & under them. Underneath the walkways are lanes of traffic, or tennis/basketball courts, or loud speaker systems with scheduled events, or preserved lines of banyan trees growing from the concrete or as this morning, hundreds of female migrant workers setting up wares in a social/picnic atmosphere. The area hums with a HK sense of activity and purpose. Wellington has too much room for such a flyover – it will be dead space.