Wellington Scoop

A Mt Cook resident explains why a flyover would be bad for the city

by Dave Shea
I would like to attend the Wellington Regional Council meeting when they discuss the traffic around the Basin Reserve. But I cannot, because it’s being held during a business day. Such meetings should really be held at times when community representatives would be more likely to attend.

Though I can’t get to the meeting, I want regional councillors to be aware of my opposition to raised-roading around the Basin Reserve. Neither of the two raised road options will do anything to enhance the Basin environment. Option X has some merit in that the roading does not dominate our living environment and my children can walk more safely to their school. If taxpayers’ money spent on the further development of Memorial Park is to have any merit, there should not be three lanes of national highway crashing through it.

The damage to our city’s sight-lines caused by either of the raised-road options will be irreparable. A raised road would dominate our environment. For those of us who live and walk through this area, a raised road will be the worst solution to traffic problems. Once built, it will always be there 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, peak traffic or no peak traffic. The problem of peak traffic flows does not justify such a road.

The wonderful view of Mount Victoria from the Adelaide Road side of the Basin Reserve is a very special element of Wellington and one most enjoyed by the non-motor vehicle traffic that passes through the Basin Reserve to and from work. Construction of a raised road would destroy this vista. The nonsensical suggestion of building an additional stand at the Basin, simply to block out the road and its noise, has caused this whole issue to descend into farce.

This city already has a so-called by-pass which locks traffic into stop-start jams because it crosses several major arteries. A raised road would do nothing but shave seconds from a journey at a very high cost, and then only serve to drive the traffic to the end of the next traffic jam.

I am puzzled that NZ Transport Agency keep referring to “the new Mt. Victoria Tunnel” as though it were some fait accompli. A second tunnel is far from being on the agenda. Reference to such development is mischievous and gives the impression that the deal is done and dusted. If the raised road option were to go ahead, after completion we would still be left with the narrow artery that is the Mount Victoria tunnel.

To resolve the peak flow congestion problem, we desperately need to look at methods other than increased roading capacity for our small city. As someone who often walks around the Basin Reserve at peak times, I am amazed how quickly the peak flow dissipates. We could make the existing roading work for many more years by experimenting with encouraging people to stagger the times that they leave for work and home. A lot of Wellington drivers work in jobs which have some degree of flexible hours. Not everyone has to be on the shop-floor at 8:30am and leave at 5:30pm. Small shifts of even 5 or 10 minutes would mean that traffic would flow much more smoothly through the tunnel and around the Basin Reserve.

Moving the pinch point several hundred meters west of the Basin Reserve is not going to help. We need to work to understand how we can get people to move more freely through existing roading by looking at why we have such acute and short lived peak flows. Building flyovers may look like someone is doing something. But all they would do is ruin our lovely city environment.

I have lived in cities outside New Zealand and I have seen how badly they can be disfigured by knee-jerk reactions to roading. I’ve also seen how local communities can be marginalised by “big-road” schemes. I chose to live in Wellington 25 years ago and I would be very reluctant for it to go down the path of those other cities becoming visually and environmentally dominated by the motor vehicle.

Dave Shea is a resident of Mt Cook.

November 1: the date when the Regional Council next debates the flyover


  1. Sridhar, 26. October 2011, 17:29

    “I would like to attend the Wellington Regional Council meeting when they discuss the traffic around the Basin Reserve”.

    You don’t get the idea. WRC doesn’t want to hear opposition, so they probably have timed it to reduce the possibility of protestors making it.

  2. andy foster, 28. October 2011, 6:35

    Hey Sridhar
    While I hope the Greater Wellington Council will come to a different view than their committee, I doubt it’s fair to accuse them of deliberately timing the meeting for such purposes. I have little doubt that the meeting was scheduled at the beginning of the year, long before the agenda. That’s exactly the same as the Wellington City Council – we’ve just set our meeting schedule for next year – long before the agenda items come up. All the committee meetings for us are daytime too. Council is in the evening. We welcome public participation and attendance and I know GW does as well.

    I think the other thing to remember with GW is that their councillors do come from everywhere from Kapiti to Carterton so probably there is a practicality issue around finishing meetings too late.

    Kind regards
    Andy Foster
    Wellington City Councillor

  3. Bottleneck blues, 29. October 2011, 20:26

    Why do we need to over invest in roading at this time?
    I say we bypass both the flyover and the underpass idea as no need has been established.