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

two flyovers [1]

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 [2]