Wellington Scoop

At last, the locals talk about the flyover

If the Basin Flyover inquiry has seemed till now to be hearing a disproportionate amount of concern about the welfare of cricketers, things have changed at last with local people starting to give evidence about their concerns.

They’re the ones whose lives will be impacted by the flyover every day of the year, in comparison with sportsmen visiting for occasional cricket matches.

And the chair of the inquiry, retired judge Gordon Whiting, acknowledged this on Friday when he said: ” what the local people have to say is important to us and reflects their views and how they feel about it … all part of the mix that we have to take into account.”

Here are the concerns of five local people, extracted from the official transcript of the hearing on Friday.

Geoffrey Palmer a resident of Mt Victoria:

I would like to make a couple of points. The first is to express my puzzlement at this proposal. For the last 25 years or so I’ve been in the computer industry in a wide variety of roles, in a wide variety of positions, in large number of companies both here and overseas and there’s one thing that we in the computer industry do consistently and consistently badly. We come to you, whether you are a home user, a small business, a government department or a giant corporation we come to you and say here’s the solution, now what was your problem? That is what I think the Basin Bridge proposal is, because it is the only way I can make sense of it. According to the NZTA the heart of this proposal is designed to reduce congestion between the Terrace Tunnel and the Mount Victoria Tunnel. It’s a laudable aim but they seem to have missed the cause of that congestion. The cause is not at the Basin Reserve, the cause lies 200 metres up the road at the Mt Victoria Tunnel…. This is the bottleneck that is causing the congestion. And this proposal simply doesn’t address that…

…[With concerns about air pollution causing premature deaths] do we really want more traffic close to residential areas, close to apartment buildings, close to what is becoming the built up heart of Wellington and on the doorstep I should add of seven schools and colleges filled with young people?

In the software industry we have a sort of code phrase for unmitigated disasters. I first came across it 20 years ago after the failure of a banking industry project that was rumoured to have cost between $200 and 300 million. The project was described was described as having been “completed but not implemented”. I don’t know what the roading industry equivalent of that is but I suspect that if this project goes ahead in years to come the phrase they’ll use amongst themselves for any cock up (great or small) will be “well you made a right Basin Bridge out of that.”

Second, Ken Bailey, who lives in the Grandstand Apartments where the flyover, if it’s built, will be immediately outside his windows.

My apartment is on the south side, the closest of all the apartments to the flyover (in fact it’s at exactly the level of my floor) so I feel that I have a grievance with the loss of my view and I thought you should hear that….I wanted you to know that I am one of many people affected by this proposal….

I have the most amazing view of the Victoria Tunnel. I watch it every day, my kitchen table is right there. And the point is that for about an hour and 15 minutes every day there’s a problem and it’s only where the lanes split off. That’s the only time of day when there’s [a problem]

Question: Can you describe for us what are the ways in which that will affect you and affect your enjoyment of your property?

MR BAILEY: Well … obviously all the traffic that went around the other side of the Basin now will be coming right by my apartment…. I already have the traffic that is going out towards the eastern suburbs but now I’ll have the other traffic that’s currently going on the other side of the Basin coming here, so I’ll have a lot more traffic. I’m not a noise or sound expert. We have been told from the report that the body corp had sponsored that there will be, you know, a significant increase.

Right now I don’t close curtains on that side [facing the flyover]. That was one of the reasons I bought this apartment a year ago …I bought it from a distance, I wasn’t here in Wellington and there wasn’t proper due diligence. I knew about the earthquake issues which were resolving in the building but I knew nothing about the flyover. But I liked, you know, the fact that I didn’t have to have my curtains closed all the time.

…We experience significant noise from the [Buckle Street] tunnel that is being built just in front of us. I mean, a lot of noise comes into my apartment. They start early, you know. That tunnel is a going to be a wonderful asset, for all the reasons that they have got for doing it. But you know, that construction noise –
and it is quite a long way from me – affects us because if gets focused in on our balcony….I have to wear ear plugs at night now for sleeping.

Ron Beernick, an Island Bay resident who cycles past the Basin Reserve just about every day:

I think there’s a real risk that we will end up with a Basin Bridge that essentially will get us faster to our next bottleneck, because that’s what will happen if we don’t address the other two parts – Mount Vic Tunnel widening and the Ruahine Street widening…. Essentially you are building a highway through the heart of Wellington….Visualising what it will look like having a whole highway cutting from the Basin Bridge to Cobham Drive I think will have enormous resistance from the public. But at the moment there’s no opportunity to capture that obsession because the NZTA are slicing and dicing the plan into three components….the public should be able to make one submission on all three things combined rather than just looking at each individual section…. My concern is that this is essentially a divide and conquer type approach.

Jocelyn Brooks, a resident of Austin Street:

As a nearby resident I frequently go to Newtown, Kilbirnie and Brooklyn. I expect to be affected by the visual effects of the project and disruption on the road, air quality and wind during construction which is expected to take three years….There will be increased vibration and delays in public and private transport. While the information includes expectation of temporary …disruption, the ugly effects will be very long term despite the many mitigations…

Charles Davenport, who lives in Paterson Street, near the traffic tunnel.

The proposed Basin Bridge project is located near my residence and will directly affect my quality of my living in the area and travel to and from my home. I’m making this submission on behalf of myself although I ight add that probably everyone who lives in my house agrees with my point of view.

I completely oppose the Basin Bridge proposal and seek that you reject the application submitted by the New Zealand Transport Agency. I first made the move to Wellington from a small town in west-central Illinois, Macomb, over 12 years ago to study music here at Victoria University, focusing on performance cello, teaching and musicology. At that time I permanently came at the recommendation of my former cello professor and knew little of what to expect of life in Wellington…. When I first arrived … I was struck by and am still in awe, as I’m sure you’ll agree, with the many beautiful vantage points in the city.

Having lived in Wellington now for more than 12 years, and now living as a resident near the Basin Reserve, wondering about this proposed bridge project immediately struck a nerve with me due to the likely and severely negative impact it would have on my day to day living there. In particular I strongly feel that the bridge would cause increased adverse noise both during and after the construction, would limit emergency vehicle access on, around and over the proposed bridge both during and after construction, and would permanently and negatively impact on the unique visual appeal of the Basin townscape which is not in line with my vision as a people
-centred and innovative forward-thinking city.

As a musician and regular pedestrian and cyclist in the Basin area I’m particularly mindful of the adverse noise effects. I do not own a car and I travel on foot, bike and bus every day through this area. I believe that the project as an elevated road will increase the cubic volume of traffic noise both during construction and operation. In contrast to a ground level road with 180 degrees of adverse noise, the project will increase this to a circumference of 360 degrees. I think it’s a basic element of physic that when you elevate something sound will travel further. If I understand correctly the NZTA’s own reports indicate that traffic noise will increase with the completed Basin Bridge. Not even making apparent what the noise might be like during construction, I believe it will act like a stage or podium, the trajectory of nines of cleaning heavy trucks, vibrations, horns, big bass stereos, sirens and all other standard aspects of the major road will be amplified with the bridge. As a pedestrian and commuter I believe that I would avoid being near and under such a bridge at all costs to mitigate the daily nuisance. As a resident on Paterson Street I believe that will reduce a quality of living in the area. … I would call into question the justification for the bridge being what I understand to accommodate an increased volume of traffic when … future transfer of vehicle use is in decline. I would also ask the Board to consider what the future of such a bridge might hold and whether it represents the best design for the future and my generation. Most likely I am just making a guess on your ages but I will probably have to deal with the bridge much longer than you.

As a permanent New Zealand resident with US citizenship, one of the special points of living in Wellington within an outsider point of view is its beauty from the many vantage points from the surrounding hills. The project will elevate the likely pollution and become a prominent feature from these many points of view to make cars on the bridge an ugly eyesore. I think this will negatively impact on the unique Wellington brand both during construction and operation. I have a vested interest in Wellington, that is where I work and I play a lot of music in and around the city and am actively involved in the community. So I intend to continue living here for as long as I wish. The Wellington brand is directly related to economic benefits to the city and hence the economic wellbeing of its inhabitants. Whenever I send photos home everyone is always jealous of the way the city looks and I do not believe that any economic benefits from the Basin Bridge, if indeed there are any tangible ones, outweigh the loss of economic benefits that will be caused by an antiquated roading project which affects local heritage and aesthetic values and the uniqueness of living here.