Press Release – Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce
Wellington City Councillors must accept that a traffic tunnel at the Basin Reserve is neither feasible nor affordable and allow the flyover project to proceed as quickly as possible, Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce CEO Raewyn Bleakley said today.
She was making an oral submission to councillors this morning on the Basin flyover proposal.
“The Basin Reserve is a major congestion point, and separating the north-south traffic from the east-west flows is absolutely necessary to address that and to future-proof the road. A flyover or ‘bridge’ is the only feasible way to achieve grade separation and must be supported.
“We originally supported the investigation of a tunnel option. However, at the point that this was found not to be feasible or affordable, we immediately accepted the bridge option as the only means of separating and improving traffic flows, and it is now imperative that councillors accept this and allow the project to proceed as quickly as possible.
“We must not put at risk the funding that has been earmarked for this and other transport projects by further delaying this decision.”
Raewyn Bleakley told councillors that the NZ Transport Agency had made it clear that if traffic flow improvements at the Basin were not achieved then efficiency gains from the proposed second Mt Victoria tunnel and other changes in the area, including public transport improvements, would be “severely compromised”.
“It would be a tragedy if the package of transport projects did not proceed and this seems a real risk if the proposed Basin Bridge does not go ahead. We congratulate the council for achieving commitments to mitigate the visual impacts of the bridge, because we recognise the importance of good urban design and ensuring a ‘good-looking Wellington’. The mitigation proposals outlined in the paper and agreed to by NZTA are very positive and will enhance the look without compromising transport efficiency.
“We urge councillors to support the council’s draft submission supporting the bridge. The business community is looking for firm leadership from the Wellington City Council on this very important issue.”
As this morning’s council debate continued, Mayor Celia Wade-Brown sent two messages via her Twitter account:
Tunnelling at the Basin won’t happen. Best now to wring most improvements for bus lanes, cycling, walking and urban design. Hard day.
IonaPannett makes excellent points about climate change. However $90m to reduce bus fares is not an alternative in front of us.
I cannot vote in support of flyover, despite improvements. It may be symbolic, but $90m on SH1 doesn’t answer climate change at all.
This is our submission to the board: $90m could be better spent. Use the interest to cut the bus fares and spread the peak.