Wellington Scoop

“Ready for ideas:” Basin traffic planners promise to work with the community

News from Wellington Regional Council
Wellington transport leaders are committed to working with the regional community to find a solution to the Basin Reserve traffic issue now that the Basin flyover project has been abandoned.

Regional Transport Committee chair Paul Swain says the first step will be to work with the community to look at how we can improve the current traffic flow at the Basin, while a more permanent solution is investigated.

“Everyone agrees we need a solution at the Basin that allows people to get to their destination as quickly as possible. We need to find a way for public transport, private motorists, walkers and cyclists to move freely through the pinch point, and we will need the community’s help to find the way forward”, Mr Swain says.

“We’re ready to hear ideas from the community on how we can keep Wellington moving, and we want to try and find a solution that has buy-in from as many people as possible”.

The Wellington region is seeing unprecedented progress on its transport network with the recent upgrade of the rail fleet and rail infrastructure, and projects such as Transmission Gully, the Kapiti Expressway and the Smart Motorway getting underway. There are major plans to improve the bus service throughout Wellington city, which will need to be linked to the new cycleways that are due to be built following the Government’s recent funding boost for cycling in the region.

“We’ve agreed that keeping up the momentum is vital, and we’ve identified some important next steps. However, we also recognise that there’s no easy solution for what is a very complex situation at the Basin Reserve. A permanent solution will take some time as we need to work with the community to get it right.”

The Ngauranga to Airport Governance Group, which is made up of representatives from the Regional Council, Wellington City Council and the NZ Transport Agency to lead the coordination of the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan, has agreed to the next steps for addressing congestion throughout the Wellington City transport network, including:

• Refreshing the Network Operating Framework – the plan for how the agencies jointly operate the network and get the most out of the roads. This will help to identify new opportunities to improve the network.

• Entering into a new collaborative process to hear ideas on how best to address traffic issues, not just at the Basin but also at other pinch points between Ngauranga and the Airport.

• Identify optimisation improvements, which are modifications to the existing network that can help to improve traffic flow.

• Continuing with the modelling work for the Detailed Business Case of the Bus Rapid Transit project. This modelling work will provide current and detailed data and information which is not only critical for BRT project decisions, but will also help to guide the development of other future projects.

• Continuing with the Port Access Study, which will help to improve access to Centreport, creating flow-on benefits for motorists and cyclists while providing an economic boost by helping to unlock our city’s main distribution hub.

• Continuing the development of cycleways identified as part of Urban Cycleways Package, and planning for a cycleway between Ngauranga and Petone.

• Continuing the planning for the Petone to Grenada Link Road.

Transport Agency Regional Director Central Raewyn Bleakley says that the Agency and its partners will welcome the local community and wider region participation in the development of future transport plans.

“We recognise that this is about more than just getting to work more quickly – this is about improving access to our airport, our regional hospital and other regional assets. It’s about freeing our transport network up for all modes and enabling our regional economy to reach its full potential. We need to solve these issues together, and we’re committed to that.”

Wellington City Council Transport and Urban Development Chair Andy Foster says that, while the need for a big-picture rethink on the Basin means there will be no overnight solutions, the partners are committed to driving transport improvements throughout the city, and to engaging the community on what should happen at the Basin and beyond.

“We also recognise that sorting out our city’s transport issues is not just important for the city – it’s important for the whole region, which depends on our infrastructure for access to key destinations such as the regional hospital, Centreport, the airport, the ferry terminal, major sports complexes and of course the CBD itself.”

“We look forward to engaging with the regional community on ideas for the Basin area. We will be meeting again soon including to plan out the timetable and process for inviting that community input, and will be announcing shortly on how we think that should be done”, Cr Foster says.

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  1. lindsay, 11. September 2015, 14:07

    Notably absent from this announcement is any reference to working with the professionals who have already come up with at-grade solutions for traffic at the Basin. Both Richard Reid and the Architectural Centre have produced convincing plans. Surely the self-titled “transport leaders” don’t intend to pretend that these plans don’t exist …

  2. Michael Gibson, 11. September 2015, 15:52

    Andy – what is the status of the group? Does it operate under the auspices of the Local Government Official Information & Meetings Act 1987?

  3. Trev, 11. September 2015, 15:56

    I wouldn’t trust Raewyn Bleakley from NZTA. She fronted a public meeting in Tawa recently and steadfastly avoided acknowledging that WCC, GWRC and the Regiona; Transport Committee all don’t agree with bulldozing Takapu Valley, as NZTA propose. She doesn’t want to listen to others, she just wants to carry on Wellington NZTA’s dictatorship. She must be watched on this Basin issue after the courts have handed down such a clear decision.

  4. Kay Jones, 11. September 2015, 16:04

    The emphasis on “regional community” and groups listed implies that Wellington communities that would be directly affected by changes at the Basin Reserve may still be ignored. Issues like health impacts on nearby schools, environmental, heritage and business concerns in Wellington city and suburbs need opportunities for local community involvement.

    As a start, the so-called transport leaders should read the report of the Basin Bridge Board of Inquiry. Next step would be hosting a minimum half-day workshop with the local community on the process to be followed and possible approaches for further work like the Basin Reserve Roundabout Enhancement Option, light rail, better traffic light sequencing, and improving the at grade lane separation along Kent Terrace.

  5. Cr Sarah Free, 11. September 2015, 17:06

    It must also include discussions with Eastern Ward communities around improving traffic flows, public transport, cycling and walkability. Already, the traffic on Wellington Road and Cobham Drive creates quite a severance for walkers. For example, people walking from Miramar to Kilbirnie have to walk to St Patrick’s College to get to the nearest pedestrian crossing. This is quite a detour if you are trying to get to the Kilbirnie shops. Or else they need to take their lives in their hands and attempt to cross Cobham Drive. If it weren’t for the airport underpass, those in Strathmore would be in an even worse position.

    Many Hataitai and Kilbirnie kids live on one side of these roads but need to cross to the other to get to schools or sports facilities. It’s not easy for them to walk around their own neighbourhoods. This is bad enough now, but will get worse if there are more lanes and more traffic.

    I’d like to see this issue put on the table really soon for a community discussion, and for NZTA to have an open mind towards making some improvements rather than saying they won’t do such and such because it’s a State Highway.

  6. CC, 11. September 2015, 18:11

    Cr. Free, you should find out what happened to Michael Mellor’s appeal against the resource consent for the indoor sports centre; Mr Mellor said “the proposed development effectively acts as if the only means of transport worth spending any money on is the private car… it puts a major facility between two un-crossable, wide, fast roads with no means of cyclists or pedestrians accessing it.” Apparently an earlier example of NZTA arrogance and the WCC’s deference.

  7. Mark, 11. September 2015, 21:34

    Basin traffic planners promise to make entertaining noises at the “start” of this project, and then stick their fingers in their collective ears at the “end” of the process when no one but the NZTA and WRC wants the results.
    Heard this song before, Paul, Andy, Raewyn, Fran et al. Why should we believe you this time around?
    And here’s another bad start … ““Everyone agrees we need a solution at the Basin that allows people to get to their destination as quickly as possible.” No – we don’t agree at all. This is Paul framing the discussion according to his personal agenda. “As quickly as possible”? No. Faster, smoother – yes. But not as the sole priority and not at the expense of every other consideration, which is precisely the same stupidity and framing arguments that we went through for the last 5 years.
    Admittedly, these are only one man’s words – but it is such framing that is being used around the debate, and it implies an attitude of “I already know what the problem is, so my solution must be implemented”. As has been said before, if the flyover was the answer, then we were asking the wrong question.

  8. Ian Apperley, 12. September 2015, 7:26

    “Ready to listen” But no reference to how we submit. Ears painted on. Paul Swain is going to be bad for GWRC…

  9. Michael Gibson, 12. September 2015, 7:58

    “Everyone (in Upper Hutt) agrees we need a solution at the Basin that allows people to get to their destination (Wellington Airport) as quickly as possible.”

  10. Cr paul bruce, 12. September 2015, 12:47

    In response to Michael Gibson: the best way to speed up travel by car to the airport through Wellington city is to give absolute priority to a public transport corridor utilising modern high capacity light rail. This will diminish the number of cars on the road, reduce conflict and smooth out the flow, resulting in faster movement for those still using private (hopefully not single) occupancy vehicles.

  11. Polly, 12. September 2015, 14:49

    Just a matter of fact: the flyover was never taking traffic to the airport.

  12. Michael Gibson, 13. September 2015, 8:14

    Paul – thank you, as usual. Have you discussed the solution with your Councillor colleague from Upper Hutt? Will you be able to attend meetings of his ‘group’ and make your solution clear to them?
    (I have asked elsewhere if the ‘group’ is subject to the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act – if it is you would, of course, have status and be able to put some commonsense into their proceedings.)

  13. Elaine Hampton, 13. September 2015, 11:46

    First the Basin is not the pinch point. Where have these people been for the last 5 years? Simple traffic changes will smooth a lot of problems; NZTA refused to do this until the flyover was consented. (I was at the public consultation).
    The tunnel is the pinch point, the school on the corner drop off helping to magnify the problem. Road lanes need realigning to stop 2 lanes running into 1 at the lights.
    Putting the lunatics in charge of the asylum is not the answer. NZTA could not go anywhere in the world and hold up their local traffic solutions and be proud of them. Stuck in a time warp? Meanwhile we can look forward to more consultation theatre.

  14. Newtown, 13. September 2015, 19:28

    @Elaine – you should work for NZTA! Brilliant observation of the problem, and you’re right it is the tunnel, school, and 2-to-1 lanes that’s disrupting the flow around the Basin. I’ve also noticed that the tiny lane connecting Cambridge Tce to Kent Tce, as well as entry from Ellice St are bottlenecks, so lets get rid of them too.

    Perhaps we can bring popcorn to enjoy the consultation theatre, or rotten tomatoes if the performance is subpar.