Wellington Scoop

Dave gets it right, again

Dave Armstrong got it right on Monday. He wrote about the moving choke point that’s causing peak-time frustration on the new Kapiti Expressway:

It seems that as more daily commuters whizzed down the spacious and efficient expressway on their way to Wellington, the “chokepoint” simply moved south. Yet according to some hopeful motorists, things will all be sorted out when Transmission Gully opens in 2020. Really? While Transmission Gully may improve travel times for commuters moving up and down the coast, how will it affect the ubiquitous queues that form outside the Terrace Tunnel every morning?

By building flash and expensive new roads are we simply pushing chokepoints further and further south? Could Kapiti commuters find themselves whizzing effortlessly from their home to just outside the city then be driven crazy by increasingly long waits to actually get inside the CBD?

Critics of the consequences of expressway have been warning about this for years.

Back in 2013, Sue Kedgley wrote:

“Forecasts of a 50% increase in city congestion during the morning peak by 2031 as a result of new motorway building should trigger a major re-think of the region’s transport policies … A 50% increase in congestion would clog our city, ruin our enviable quality of life and threaten our economic and social viability. What is the point in spending $3 billion on new motorways, if they are going to accelerate congestion, and gridlock our city?”

And more:

“The reality is that the viability and livability of Wellington depends on reducing, not increasing traffic, by investing in alternatives to cars such as light rail, improved public transport, walking and cycling, and other work related strategies such as flexible working hours.”

But the planners weren’t listening.

And back in 2015, Dave Armstrong also got it right with his description of how traffic congestion around the Basin Reserve could easily be solved.

As I cycle home towards Newtown from the CBD, I see the problems. Two lanes of traffic in Kent Terrace remain virtually empty, yet the right-hand lane backs up with traffic almost to Courtenay Place with traffic headed for Newtown and the motorway north. However, when you get to the lights near the Mt Victoria tunnel bottleneck, the inside lane is virtually empty. Then at the Adelaide Road lights, half the traffic wanting to turn left into Newtown has to wait for traffic going straight ahead. Then the lane going north to Cambridge Terrace is largely empty while the lanes heading toward the motorway north are congested – though the Arras tunnel has made a huge difference.

Is anybody listening?


  1. TrevorH, 6. April 2017, 19:01

    No he doesn’t. The Kapiti Expressway is a great advance for the Kapiti Coast and makes driving much safer. There have been many fatal crashes there in the past. Transmission Gully will also be a huge step forward. If Wellington is concerned about congestion, then impose a tax on vehicles entering the CBD between 7am and 9am. Also designate car pooling lanes on the motorways between the same hours. Technology makes this easy. In other words use your brain and stop delaying upgrading our region’s inadequate and dangerous roads.

  2. Elaine Hampton, 7. April 2017, 15:06

    Use your brain!!! If I used mine, I would be pushing forward with public transport, trains to the city (the lines are all still there around the region, they only carry milk) and light rail through the city.
    As they say in my line of work, “isn’t the technology wonderful” but has it raised more questions than answers?
    Designate what you like but volume is the issue as we have just seen in the recent floods.

  3. Traveller, 7. April 2017, 17:18

    Driving north on the new expressway has improved the travelling experience, though you no longer have any sense of place as you speed above the towns. But Dave Armstrong is absolutely right about the moving choke point for peak-hour motorists heading south. When Transmission Gully is completed, the queues at Tawa and then from Ngauranga into the CBD will be worse than anyone can imagine, with no solution being planned for SH1 continuing to be the already-overloaded Vivian Street.

  4. Elaine Hampton, 7. April 2017, 17:48

    Methinks they are loading up the region to force Wellington into ‘4 lanes to the planes’. Thing is that really it is only a smallish airport – ah yes, politicians use it a lot. But not everyone will be going to the airport, people will have to drive because public transport is so lamentable. Unlike any European or even an Aussie city.

  5. Paul Estoc, 2. May 2017, 15:22

    The expressway is a horror – a death blow to the small, unique communities that used to line SH1 and proof that all NZTA cares about is more roading jobs for its mates. Sure it cuts 30 mins off my drive to Palmy each week, but at what cost to the communities bypassed by it ?