Wellington Scoop

Inevitable? Why one Basin flyover will be followed by a second Basin flyover

two flyovers

by Richard Reid
The NZ Transport Agency should come clean on its flyover plans. Our practice believes that one flyover will pave the way for a second.

The Agency’s proposed options for mitigation of the flyover, which it has developed in agreement with the Wellington City Council, include a “commitment to consolidate state highway traffic away from Vivian Street and into a single east-west corridor.”

Consolidation of the highway traffic into one east-west corridor logically means the route from the Terrace Tunnel to the Airport will be located along the Karo Drive-Buckle St alignment.

We believe this will inevitably lead to a proposal by the Transport Agency for a second flyover in front of the Basin Reserve. A second flyover conforms with the Agency’s ultimate vision for the project, which dates back to 1963.

One flyover = two flyovers

The need for and potential consequences from two flyovers have not been assessed by the Agency or by the regional and city councils; nor has the potential for two flyovers been consulted with the public.

There will be a grave injustice served on the city if a second flyover is one of the outcomes from mitigation of the proposed flyover. How can mitigation of one flyover = two flyovers?

The potential for a second flyover as part of a mitigation package indicates that the project’s scope, design and assessment of effects are incomplete and misleading.

The Transport Agency and the Wellington City Council must answer now whether the consolidation of east-west traffic in one corridor will lead to a second flyover. Given the logical consequence of consolidation, any deference by them until after a Board of Inquiry should be read as tacit confirmation of a second flyover.

Effects of a second flyover

Based upon drawings that Richard Reid & Associates have prepared:

• A second flyover will not deliver any positive urban design outcomes for Wellington, contrary to WCC officers’ assessment. Instead, both flyovers will permanently divide the city, causing irreparable damage to Wellington’s character and reputation;

• A second flyover together with an additional Buckle St cut and cover tunnel will undermine and devalue Memorial Park and the approaches to it;

• A second flyover will significantly compromise public transport initiatives and outcomes; continue to prioritise and subsidise movement of east-west highway traffic when most predicted growth is north-south local traffic; and further constrain local access to the highway route.

If a Board of Inquiry approves one flyover with this proposed mitigation included, any future application for a second flyover will use Wellington City Council’s resolution and the Board’s decision as the basis and precedent for a second flyover.

Public Debate and Submissions

The potential for a second flyover is of profound consequence for Wellington and its possibility should be publicly debated now, not if or once one flyover is approved.

It is essential that this proposed mitigation be raised as a matter for public discussion and consideration before submissions are due on NZTA’s application. This is especially important given the widespread concern regarding the impact of one flyover.

The Wellington City Council’s draft submission on the Transport Agency’s flyover application must address the potential for a second flyover before it is reported back to the Strategy and Policy Committee. The Council must prevent hidden scope ‘creep’ for the project by passing a resolution explicitly opposing support for this proposed mitigation.

Councillors at both regional and city councils, and the public, should re-address any support for the flyover if it will lead to two flyovers in the medium to long term.

Richard Reid is Director of Richard Reid & Associates, the practice which has developed an alternative to the Transport Agency’s proposed flyover.

Read also: The two-faced flyover


  1. JC, 12. August 2013, 13:24

    In my view this analysis is flawed and misleading. It describes a second flyover as mitigation for the first flyover but does not take into account the positive effects that would result on Vivian Street and Kent Terrace (currently a traffic sewer) if east-west traffic is consolidated into one corridor. Among other things, consolidation would mean that north-south traffic along Taranaki Street and Adelaide Road / Cambridge Terrace would only have to deal with crossing SH1 once.

    I personally favour consolidation, followed by a lowering of as much of the consolidated route to a sub-grade level as possible when finances permit.

  2. Traveller, 13. August 2013, 22:15

    Lowering the route would be so much better for the Basin Reserve than building two flyovers or even one flyover. But the government doesn’t care.

  3. Maximus, 14. August 2013, 7:30

    Richard, this was identified by Eye of the Fish back in August 2011, and discussed there: http://eyeofthefish.org/double-banger/
    Yes, it is fairly obvious that NZTA are keeping that option alive – which makes their current work all the more stupid as it will just cost more to have to dig up the park again at a later date to put the (inevitable?) second tunnel under Memorial Park.
    As JC says above, there is an up-side to this: the possibility of Vivian St one day being returned to the city as a usable street, rather than the one-way traffic rat run that it is now. As you note, it comes with the price of two flyovers. But seeing as most Wellingtonians don’t seem to give a flying fuck about one flyover, why would they object to two?

  4. peter@south-welly, 14. August 2013, 22:36

    Maximus – such a churlish remark, a profanity really exemplifies sound judgment and intellectual ability – not.

  5. Elaine H, 16. August 2013, 10:45

    We are witnessing the destruction of Wellington as we know it

  6. JC, 16. August 2013, 17:19

    Wow Elaine, talk about an over-reaction! Cities grow. I’m sure there would have been people saying the same thing when they built the cable car to Kelburn a century ago.

  7. Sridhar, 18. August 2013, 21:17

    Hey JC, are you aware that after building bridges after bridges, cities in US are now starting to pull them down because a) they look ugly (as they did after being constructed but also because b) they are not fixing anything in the first place.

    So why would you want a bridge that is going to result the same? Do you want to experience the results first hand. why not learn from the experience of others?

  8. JC, 21. August 2013, 12:09

    Sridhar – I am happy to debate the merits as I appreciate there is no easy answer here, but please refrain from overstatements, they do not serve your argument well.

    Also, rather than attack the flyover, is there another proposal which you think would serve Wellington better? In my view there isn’t – all the alternatives (X, RR, status quo etc) have been thoroughly reviewed by various stakeholders and none have come out on top – but if you have a better idea I’d love to hear it.