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Which way on the flyover?

twoflyovers [1]

by Lindsay Shelton
It’s amazing to discover so much misinformation about the flyover that the Transport Agency wants to build at the Basin Reserve. I had two reminders of this yesterday.

Having a drink with a friend who has an immense range of political contacts and knowledge, I was surprised when he said that traffic would travel in both directions on the flyover. When I told him he was wrong, it was his turn to be surprised. He didn’t know that the flyover will be a one-way road, which will carry east-west traffic only from the Mount Victoria Tunnel to the Buckle Street tunnel.

On the same day, in his survey of the Wellington economy [2], Pattrick Smellie fell into a similar trap. He wrote about the flyover as “a strip of road connecting the motorway to the airport.” He was wrong, too. The flyover will carry traffic in the opposite direction, away from the airport.

Confusion about the flyover keeps on coming. In February, the mayors of Porirua and Upper Hutt [3] said they supported it because of the need to move traffic through the CBD to the airport. Nick Leggett and Wayne Guppy said the flyover was “the only immediate option.” But if the flyover is built, and if they try to use it to get to the airport, they’re in for a dreadful surprise. They’ll either be involved in a head-on collision. Or they’ll find themselves heading in the wrong direction.

flyover landscaping [4]

As well as confusion, there’s also delusion. Most particularly on the part of the Wellington City Council, which voted by 8 votes to 7 to seek “mitigation” for the flyover. As if anything could hide a concrete structure that’ll be 260 meters long and 13 metres wide, hanging above Kent and Cambridge Terraces.

Progress on the project has been going slowly this year. The Transport Agency was expecting to lodge its resource consent application at the end of last year or early this year. Then there was silence. However as a result of an OIA request, we now know that the Agency’s preparations are taking longer than expected.

The Resource Management Act applications … at this stage are programmed to be lodged in June this year, and will be publically notified.

As for the demand from the Basin Reserve Trust that a new grandstand should be built [5] so that cricketers won’t be alarmed by seeing traffic on the flyover:

The NZTA has not at this stage reached a concluded agreement with any party to build an agreed structure in the Basin Reserve. The NZTA is still in negotiations with the Basin Reserve Trust and the Wellington City Council about the design of the proposed structure and the details of its construction and management.

If it’s built, of course, the “structure” will add to the ugliness of the concrete bridge, will destroy the open space corridor of the north/south Kent/Cambridge Terrace-Adelaide Road axis, and will be a visual blockage just as regrettable as the New World supermarket at the other end of the boulevard.