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Regional Council support for flyover is “deficient,” says councillor

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A Wellington Regional Councillor has today criticised his council’s support for the flyover at the Basin Reserve. The Regional Council today said it was sending a supportive submission to the board of inquiry which is to decide on resource consent hearing for the flyover. But Councillor Paul Bruce disagrees with the submission. Here’s his criticism.

Media release from Paul Bruce
The Greater Wellington Regional Council’s submission to the EPA Board is deficient in that it doesn’t address its non-compliance with the council’s Regional Land Transport 2010-40 strategy.

It also doesn’t address PM2.5 particulates generated from high traffic flows already not meeting international guidelines for the protection of residents within 200 metres of major roads.

According to Basin Reserve Alternatives NZTA/WCC report page 86, the planned flyover will result in:
– increased traffic flows of 19% vehicles per day on Vivian Street
– increase of 9% vehicles per day on Kent Tce
– two way flow increase of 13% per day on Adelaide Road
– traffic flow increase of 13% per day on Buckle Street

And 2000 local residents live within 200 metres of the Basin Reserve roads.

An ARUP/OPUS Dec 2012 study, which is yet to be circulated to Councillors, concludes that the RONS and by implication the Basin project will result in decreasing Public transport and active mode share from 2021. It shows carbon dioxide emissions increasing, and veh-km in congested conditions increasing 2011-41 by about 100% in the AM peak (fig 6-4).

The report states on page 27: “This increase is particularly pronounced in the Wellington area with congested vehicle-km increasing by over 60% between 2021 and 2031. This is largely due to the RoNS projects to the north being completed and increasing demands on the Wellington network.”

The Basin flyover construction is planned ahead of public transport improvements, ahead of the provision of safe cycle ways and in spite of international research that indicates that these type of structures create a whole new set of safety problems with a loss of amenity. It also destroys the visual lines towards the sea.

But mostly importantly, the Basin flyover will not meet the most important challenges facing us today, reducing our greenhouse emissions and encouraging modal shift to more sustainable forms of transport.

This submission does not address adequately our own strategic targets and the key actions of the Wellington Regional Land Transport Strategy. It does not comply with at least four out of the seven Key outcomes due to forecast increased traffic congestion, decreased PT peak period mode share, decreased mode share for pedestrians and cyclists, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Present congestion problems relate to:
– the fleet of single passenger taxis from the Airport by business and chief executives
– school children dropped off at local colleges in private vehicles

This congestion can be addressed by reducing the number of cars on the roads by the provision of improved public transport services and safe cycle routes. This strategy would then meet the objectives of our RLTS.

And can improved traffic flow be obtained through lane adjustments and light phasing as suggested by Richard Reid, avoiding the negative amenity impacts, cost and negative RLTS outcomes of a Basin Reserve flyover?

Councillors must heed Prof. Peter Newman, John Curtin Distinguished Professor of Sustainability and Board member of Infrastructure Australia, who stated cities that were getting people out of their cars were flourishing in the 21st century, and vote against this submission.

Councillors Paul Bruce and Daran Ponter voted against the draft Regional Council submission supporting the Transport Agency’s application for a flyover at the Basin Reserve.

Comment from Councillor Chris Laidlaw
The only way a dedicated public transport link can get past the Basin Reserve is by grade separation (in other words separating either the north-south or the east -west route from the other). It is also now established beyond any doubt that the only way we can do this without resorting to wildly expensive tunneling, is via a flyover of some kind. That is all that is on offer from NZTA, and the regional council in its submission on the project has recognised that reality and opted for the public transport benefits in terms of walking, cycling and faster bus movements. The flyover isn’t a good solution in any other respect and we have reached this point as a result of a deeply flawed process; one in which the NZTA makes up its mind in advance what option it wants and leaves the councils with a take it or leave it decision.