by Tim Jones
After a quiet 2016, Wellington transport issues – including possible new proposals for the area around the Basin Reserve – are about to hit the headlines again, as the covers come off Let’s Get Welly Moving’s transport plans.
Ever since late 2015, the Let’s Get Welly Moving project set up by NZTA, the Wellington City Council and the Wellington Regional Council has been working away behind the scenes to take a fresh look at Wellington’s transport, access and mobility needs in the wake of the defeat of NZTA’s Basin Reserve flyover.
As part of their announced commitment to openness, LGWM ran extensive public engagement early last year. Since then, however, and despite the recent release of their progress report, it’s all gone a bit quiet.
But at last the covers are about to come off LGWM’s thinking. Have they been planning for a sustainable, multi-modal transport system, with an emphasis on walking, cycling, and modern, environmentally friendly public transport? Or will it be all about “more lanes to the planes”? Or will they try to please everyone?
And what do they have in mind around and near the Basin? Will the future of the Basin Reserve be safeguarded, or will it again be put at risk?
We’ll start to find out at two LGWM workshops this month – but attendance at these workshops has been strictly controlled, and that raises its own set of questions.
Save the Basin looked at these issues in a Dominion Post OpEd on 8 March.
On the same day, Michael Barnett of FIT Wellington drew attention to NZTA’s motorway-oriented mission mindset, and the regressive impact this was having on attempts to develop a sustainable transport system for Wellington.
Meanwhile, in the courts…
We hear a lot about “four lanes to the planes”, but what if the planes don’t come? Wellington Airport has been pushing its runway extension plans hard, but their economic analysis amounts to “build it and they will come”. That may have worked for Kevin Costner in the movies, but it rarely works in the real world.
And in any case, the runway extension project continues to run into delays and legal troubles. Here’s the latest from the Guardians of the Bays.
At this point, the future of the project, and whether the planned resource consent hearing in the Environment Court will even go ahead, is unknown. Maybe there are better things to spend the transport dollar on than building motorways to an airport that can’t get its act together?
If the project did go ahead, it would lead to years of additional heavy truck movements – up to 60 trucks per hour, thirty out and thirty back – around the Basin Reserve. Save the Basin thinks that’s a bad idea, and we’ll be drawing attention to the implications of that during the Environment Court hearing on the project – if the hearing ever happens.
Tim Jones is co-convenor of the Save the Basin group.