Wellington Scoop

Things to come: the expressway (four lanes? six lanes?) through Hataitai

expressway ruahine street

by Lindsay Shelton
Once decisions have been made about the Basin Reserve, our transport leaders will be turning their attention to Hataitai, and the expressway through the suburb that has long been planned to move traffic faster to and from the airport.

When they first heard about the expressway in 2011, Hataitai residents met to discuss their concerns. Since then, they may have forgotten some of the warnings from that meeting.

“Access to the town belt is terrible, and it’s going to get worse if a four-lane highway is built,” said a local resident who works with young cyclists, whose parents won’t allow them to ride to Hataitai Park because of the dangers from two-laned traffic.

The published plan (top picture) shows how four lanes (or more) will cut off Hataitai from the park and the town belt. There’s no sign of any way for pedestrians or cyclists to get from one side of the expressway to the other.

“We need to mount the strongest community resistance that we can,” said Dr Russel Norman, a Moxham Avenue resident. “We need to work together.” A warning which took on added meaning when a Kapiti resident told the locals that “neighbours are pitted against each other” in her area, because of the Kapiti expressway plans. (And this was back in 2011.)

After the meeting, a community group was set up to challenge the expressway. Its convenor said the plan was based on false assumptions:

The proposed roads will erode our quality of life in the eastern suburbs and won’t relieve traffic congestion. People living within 200m – and this includes Kilbirnie School and the adjacent Playcentre – will be exposed to higher levels of pollution. Hataitai kindergarten will need to be moved. The edge of the Town Belt will be sliced off to make room for the extra lanes of traffic. After a few years, congestion from induced traffic means we would be back where we started – but $500 million poorer”.

But the Transport Agency was unmoved. Two years later, it confirmed its plans. Wellington Road is to become a six-lane highway. For Ruahine Street, Jenny Chetwynd tried to pretend that there would be only four lanes::

The initial proposals saw Ruahine Street increased to up to seven lanes for highway traffic when turning lanes were included; the new proposals see a maximum of four lanes along the vast majority of Ruahine Street’s length.

Such a promise was worthless. In 2014 the Agency’s Rod James said the Hataitai expressway would have to be even wider.

It was likely the agency would need to encroach into Hataitai Park further than previously thought in order to accommodate new bus lanes along Ruahine Street. The bus lanes would be needed only if the region’s decision-makers decided to build a dedicated busway, rather than a light rail network, to improve transport between the CBD and southern suburbs.

Everyone knows what choice was made by our transport leaders. They voted against light rail. Which means that, if the expressway is built, even more town belt land will be bulldozed to make way for the bus lanes.


  1. Paul, 16. September 2015, 10:17

    “There’s no sign of any way for pedestrians or cyclists to get from one side of the expressway to the other. ” Not part of NZTA’s thinking. The car is paramount. Why would anyone not want to be in one?

  2. Tim Prebble, 16. September 2015, 11:33

    The ‘threat’ has been underway for ages – NZTA forcibly bought my apartment building 2 years ago (& houses on route) [via Twitter]

  3. Michael Gibson, 16. September 2015, 13:20

    WCC breached their own Standing Orders last month, then changed the Town Belt Bill to remove certain of our rights over the Town Belt. This followed the Government’s wishes to facilitate four- or six-laning. I am surprised that the changed Bill has been presented to Parliament.

  4. MFG, 16. September 2015, 14:57

    Lindsay you are well wide of the mark here.

    The latest plans for the widening of Ruahine St clearly show four lanes with a planted median, a dedicated bus lane towards the City (which could be used for LRT), a new pedestrian bridge from Hataitai Village to Hataitai Park, and two new signalised pedestrian crossings at Goa St and Wellington Road (where currently there are none) providing access into the town belt. The new cycle path starting at Cobham Dr also links to the cycle tunnel to be built as part of the new tunnel. The road would also be 50km/h instead of the current 70km/h. To call this an expressway is laughable – you are clearly out of touch, although misinformation like this is to be expected from the anti-flyover brigade and shows a lack of integrity. You obviously haven’t even bothered to do any research based on up to date information.

    As an Eastern Suburbs bus commuter and cyclist I say bring it on, along with a new tunnel. My neighbours agree. Opinions like yours are mis-leading and unhelpful.

  5. Mike Mellor, 16. September 2015, 15:03

    Jenny Chetwynd may have said “The initial proposals saw Ruahine Street increased to up to seven lanes for highway traffic when turning lanes were included; the new proposals see a maximum of four lanes along the vast majority of Ruahine Street’s length”, but that was never true. She was conveniently overlooking the proposed vehicle access lane to service Ruahine St properties (which they also called a “dedicated” walking and cycling lane, also untrue).

    So the proposal was for a road eight (not seven) lanes wide at the Goa St intersection, with the newer proposal revised to five (not four) lanes elsewhere on Ruahine St, seven on Wellington Road.

    It’s very strange the difficulty that NZTA has with simple numbers: with “BRT” to Kilbirnie it says that proposals are for bus lanes over the ‘whole length’ of the route, but that’s not true either, the Mt Vic tunnel and western approaches from the Basin (roughly 10% of the total route) being excluded.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could believe what NZTA says?

  6. Councillor Helene Ritchie, 16. September 2015, 16:25

    Where is the innovative creative thinking? There are so many ways to address transport issues for a city to enhance it, and not destroy it. Traditional ways are not always the best – just look at Auckland. Have traditional ways solved or created congestion?

    We really do need to take a long hard look. Life has changed greatly since the 1960s when the De Leuw Cather roading models gave us the Terrace motorway (through historic graves and cemetery)! Today for example we have information technology transforming our lives, our movements, our times of movement, our way (and place) of work, of life and of travel.

    The 1960’s solutions are now nearly two generations old….Let’s approach our future transport needs with open and innovative and inclusive minds.

  7. CC, 16. September 2015, 16:52

    MFG: Why is it that people such as yourself resort to saying, “bring it on”, after making comments that are based on prejudicial reactions, laced with ad hominem remarks. How can Lindsay be “well wide of the mark” when he provides quotes and links to illustrate some widely held concerns? It is also puzzling when you refer to the “anti-flyover brigade”. The article clearly quotes concerns of Hataitai residents and mentions a community group that was set up to challenge the expressway – nothing to do with the flyover. Of course, in that regard, those who challenged the proposal have had their criticisms well and truly vindicated by the BOI decision and the subsequent High Court ruling against the NZTA’s appeal, making your remark seem particularly churlish. Having cited your authority as a personal opinion with which you claim, without corroboration, that your neighbours agree, one is left wondering whose opinions are “mis-leading and unhelpful”.

  8. RS, 16. September 2015, 18:51

    There’s an underlying belief by NZTA that anyone in a car should go anywhere, anytime they want without hindrance by right, and we should build it. Traffic is the only infrastructure you can’t outbuild. We need better solutions, especially being at peak car

  9. Ron Beernink, 16. September 2015, 20:11

    Another huge expensive battle looming for local residents, without any financial assistance from the Government. Instead NZTA and its ‘experts’ and lawyers will get nicely funded by us taxpayers again. Looking at the concept drawings it will be another Basin Bridge debacle. This time with the town belt and Hataitai housing along Ruahine Street at stake.

  10. Phil C, 17. September 2015, 1:13

    Sure. Build more roads. As found in every other country, you will simply create more congestion.

    A transport policy that does not get people out of their cars is nothing of the sort. Encouraging private car access to or through the CBD is the opposite of what most other countries are currently doing.

    Having a central government agency with direct responsiblity for such local matters is an affront to local democracy.

  11. Ellen Blake, 17. September 2015, 10:22

    This proposed road of no significance would dissect our community [via Twitter]

  12. Stan Andis, 17. September 2015, 13:50

    I have made two submissions to NZTA regarding the widening of Ruahine Street proposal. I want to make it clear that I am not a roading engineer but have travelled along there about 10 million times (I think). The sprawling images of a six lane motorway into the Town Belt to me seem to be chock full of a short fuse for a community upheaval. After the Basin Bridge debacle, surely NZTA can learn from this and undertake a true and intensive consultation exercise. The outcome should not be based on the cheapest option, but something that the majority of the wider community agree to. My option is to construct a motorway with two lanes stretching in each direction, with an elevated twin lane above the other. No need to create an expansive roadway oasis. The only problem as I see it is that “cost in dollars” could circumnavigate the destruction of some precious Wellington open space.

  13. Dr Sea Rotmann, 17. September 2015, 16:44

    What an unbelievable short-sighted mess and yet another fight for the community. This Government (and Council it seems!) are pro-car, pro-oil, pro-fossil fuel, old-school thinking and anti-climate change action and resilience. Light rail is the only sustainable option.

  14. Andrew, 18. September 2015, 9:27

    I just had a look at the light rail site. $20M per km, $150M from the railway station to the hospital. Are these figures out of date?

    I was living in Dublin when the Luas was being constructed. That project had some serious cost over-runs. You cannot just lay rails in a trench in the road either. They had some serious foundation work going in. I would not be surprised if the real cost is quite a bit higher. Still, once it is built it will be a great asset. As long as future generations don’t go and rip it out (trams anyone??)

  15. Guy, 18. September 2015, 12:45

    Andrew, not sure what site you were on, but yes, the figures are certainly not accurate. Yes again, in that Dublin (and Edinburgh ) had disastrously high costs, but then again, many European cities have been brought in well, on much smaller budgets.
    The key will be to get experienced contractors and consultants, unlike the authors of the report so far.

  16. MFG, 18. September 2015, 13:10

    CC: “How can Lindsay be ‘well wide of the mark’ when he provides quotes and links to illustrate some widely held concerns?” Simple, because he quotes 2011 drawings and quotes. Since then there has been a lot of design work completed including providing for buslanes, a shared path, cycle tunnel and pedestrian crossings, although I think it all stopped about the time the Basin decision came out. It was presented in a newsletter a couple of years ago. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a compelling made up story though. Hataitai expressway…lolz. [The “six-lane highway” link connects from my article to the current NZTA website which describes “our plans for the road network between Cobham Drive and Mt Victoria,” including changes made in 2011 and 2013, and specifying six lanes of traffic on Wellington Road. Parts of the website, however, don’t seem to have been updated since last year.- Lindsay Shelton. ]