Wellington Scoop

Fixing Basin traffic – not a problem

by Lindsay Shelton
It was surprising to read this week that Andy Foster believes there is no solution in sight to congestion problems at the Basin Reserve.

This isn’t so. And it’s equally unacceptable to be told that a solution could be four years away.

Anyone who drives around the Basin can offer solutions now. I invite Andy to drive with me round the Basin, so he can see how there can be a quick fix.

For a start, in Kent Terrace, congestion is caused because there’s only one lane carrying traffic towards Newtown (this single lane feeds into four lanes – two of them in Adelaide Road and two more continuing round the Basin.) There should be two lanes in Kent Terrace for this traffic.

In contrast, Kent Terrace has two lanes for traffic heading east into the single lane of the Mt Victoria Tunnel. These two lanes are seldom congested. Some impatient drivers use them as a way to queue jump, messily, into the traffic waiting to get to Newtown.

And second, the lane markings on the left turn from Rugby Street into Adelaide Road have been unworkable for years. The left lane leads drivers on to a bus stop. Full stop. The second turning lane is also a straight-ahead lane, and left-turning drivers get trapped behind traffic that isn’t turning left.

Not hard to fix both these issues with some realignment of the white lines.

Back in 2010, Celia Wade-Brown noted congestion at the Rugby Street/Adelaide Road corner. And she came up with valid solutions. Solutions which show why a flyover was never needed. And that was five years ago.

The huge amount of space fenced off outside St Marks and Government House needs to be reconsidered as well. It’s unused and empty for 23 hours every day, alongside the stationary lines of traffic waiting to get into Adelaide Road.


  1. Wendy, 16. March 2016, 17:36

    Great idea Lindsay!! So easy but would really help ease congestion. Two lanes feeding four lanes, and just one lane all the way through the tunnel.

  2. Damian M, 16. March 2016, 21:01

    It’s wrong to say that Kent Tce’s left two lanes are never congested; from 3:30pm onwards those lanes are slugggggish, caused by the zipping into one lane before Mt Vic tunnel. Your solutions need to deal with these lanes, as well.

    A start would be to think about turning Kent Tce’s far right hand parking lane into another lane and redeveloping the – albeit, lovely and green – massive median into a parking lane.

    Unfortunately, this won’t fix the lack of lanes going around the Basin.. Nor will it ameliorate Mt Vic tunnel’s single lane. Those problems will require much more thinking (and road works).

  3. Curtis Nixon, 16. March 2016, 21:23

    There are over thirty car parks around the Basin. Getting rid of them and creating more traffic lanes would be simple and cheap. But NZTA doesn’t want that. If it isn’t a big concrete infrastructure project worth millions. who cares. No budget glory there.
    Best to take Wellington’s CBD highways back and let WCC organise them. I trust WCC transport planners a lot more than NZTA or GWRC – (same thing really).

  4. Rumpole, 16. March 2016, 22:10

    Your Honor: You’ve heard that my ratepayer clients were unamused when Councillor Foster claimed it would take four years to resolve and improve minor traffic congestion at the Basin Reserve. You mentioned consideration of a possible sentence to include Basin Reserve detention i.e. to be seated on the corner of Dufferin and Patterson Streets armed with a loud hailer apologising to motorists for using them as political fodder. My clients are willing to agree.

  5. KB, 17. March 2016, 10:36

    How about a right turning lane from Kent Terrace just before you get to the Basin, synched with lights on northbound traffic on Cambridge, allowing cars to proceed directly to Arras tunnel up a new road on the land that was put aside for the flyover.
    This would remove the traffic that does almost a full circuit around the Basin to get from Kent Terrace to the tunnel.

  6. Trish, 17. March 2016, 13:52

    The bus lane along Kent Tce means that the buses need to cut across all the other lanes to reach Adelaide Rd. Express buses can stay in the right-hand lane all the way from Courtenay Place. The only reason for the bus lane on the left, beyond the Kilbirnie turnoff into Elizabeth St, is to service two bus stops before the Basin. Does the use of those stops justify the havoc they cause?

  7. Sue, 17. March 2016, 16:33

    Good points Lindsay. The reality is the alleged congestion at the Basin Reserve is grossly exaggerated – even the Board of Inquiry stated that. The roading around the Basin Reserve is supposed to function as a large roundabout. There should be no parking on it or leading up to it, and certainly not two lanes cordoned off outside St Mark’s School.

  8. Brent Efford, 17. March 2016, 21:50

    A big improvement to both traffic flow and the environment could be made if southbound SH1 traffic travelled via Hania St, and Kent Tce became part of the linear park/boulevard that the street was envisaged to be in Victorian times.

  9. The City is Ours, 18. March 2016, 10:21

    Thank you Trish. The bus priority lane is clearly on the wrong side of the street in Kent Terrace. Considering Government House has multiple entrances, they might be pursuaded by council planners to close the Basin entrance and allow Wellington College to share the one in Drummond Street.