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How many people do you need to fix the Basin roads?

by Lindsay Shelton
How many people are needed to change the roads around the Basin Reserve? I haven’t done a head count. But I have been able to count the number of committees (for lack of a better word) … there seem to be ten of them, but I’ve probably overlooked some.

First there’s the Governance Group. It was established in August last year [1], one month after the government’s board of inquiry rejected the Basin flyover. Its job is

to accelerate planning and design work on the linked projects outlined in the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan, including Bus Rapid Transit and the related projects on local streets (including upgrades to Kent/Cambridge Terraces, Adelaide Road and the Island Bay to City Cycleway) and state highway projects to enable them to facilitate and support a solution to the Basin Reserve.

It also has to give advice to the Steering Group (number two) and report to the Regional Transport Committee [2] (number three).

Then there are three “delivery organisations” – these are named as the Regional Council, the Wellington City Council and the Transport Agency. (They bring the total to six, so far.)

The Governance Group (which has met only twice since it was established) is expected to ensure that all three are well co-ordinated. However, (deep breath) though it sounds important, it doesn’t have much real power.

It does not replace the decision making responsibilities of the two Councils and the Board of the Transport Agency, nor does it assume policy making responsibilities.

There’s also a Programme Manager. What does he or she do? He or she is involved with another group (number seven) made up of council CEOs and the Transport Agency’s Regional Director. The people on this group have to

consider the scope, programme structure and organisation, decision making pathways, approach to public and other stakeholder engagement, timing and resource requirements. This will include consideration of the modelling to be carried out as part of the BRT Detailed Business work and the requirement to utilise new expertise with enhanced urban design focus.

Add “new expertise” to the list. (Will that be an eighth group?)

And don’t forget the Wellington City Council’s transport committee. (Number nine.) However it seems to be out of the loop and hasn’t said anything about what should be done at the Basin since the flyover was rejected. Its members are no doubt embarrassed by the fact that they reversed their stance from opposing the flyover to supporting it. What a wrong decision that turned out to be.

Then there’s the Board of the Transport Agency [3], as the tenth decision-making group (the most powerful of them all?) and another that got it wrong by backing the flyover. Have they analysed their mistakes and the mistakes of their staff and all their expert advisors? Is deputy chair Patsy Reddy regretting her claim – debunked by the board of inquiry – that somehow a concrete flyover could be “mitigated?”

The Transport Agency has been responsible for 15 years of reports and analysis about all of the possibilities for the Basin. You can see them all on its Basin Connections [4] website which shows reports dating back to 2001. For all those years the Agency got it wrong, by backing the flyover and ignoring the reality that an at-grade solution was possible (and was much less expensive). The agency may now be struggling to accept what it should have recognised 15 years ago. But ten separate groups aren’t needed to help it reach this decision.