Wellington Scoop

Option X now $10m cheaper than a flyover for the Basin Reserve

by Christine McCarthy
Lengthening the Memorial Park tunnel and building Option X will be cheaper than NZTA’s proposed Option A flyover proposal. The cost argument cannot be used to support Option A. We are constantly told of economic difficulties and the need for the most economically efficient option. That option is now Option X.

The Architectural Centre estimates that Option X will be approximately $10 million less than the NZTA’s Option A because Option X will maximise the benefit of the Memorial Park tunnel. This saving does not take into account the additional Option A cost of including an $11million grandstand for the Basin Trust, which, if included, would increase the cost advantage of Option X to more than $20 million.

Not only will the flyover scar this part of the city, it will be an expensive unsightly scar. Option X is cheaper, and will provide better green connections across the city from Memorial Park through to the townbelt. It will provide more recreational spaces and safer routes for the children going to the many schools in this area.

Option A= $75m for flyover + $8million cycle clip-on = $83 million cost

Option X = $130 million – $57 million saving (due to Memorial Park tunnel) = $73 million cost

Christine McCarthy is president of the Architectural Centre

Read many more new comments on:
Flyover nonsensical, a sad mistake
And also
Option X – the details


  1. Alana, 25. September 2012, 16:03

    No wonder NZTA didn’t include the costs for Option X if the War Memorial project was developed in its comparison document. And this lower cost for Option X doesn’t include the offer by NZTA of a $11 million grand stand – that seems to be possibly part of its deal with the Basin Reserve Trust, or maybe not.

  2. Cr Paul Bruce, 25. September 2012, 18:17

    Option x now definitely makes sense!

  3. confused, 25. September 2012, 18:32

    How does one get from Adelaide Road to the Mt. Vic tunnel? [Ed: the same way as now? Look at the drawing.]

  4. Nick, 25. September 2012, 18:54

    It’s all nonsensical. Approve the trenching of the road, and then elevate the road. Build the flyover, then spend extra money hiding it. Make new parks, and run a bridge through them.

  5. Alana, 25. September 2012, 22:03

    Nick, I like your thinking. Have you suggestions for school standards as well?

  6. still confused, 26. September 2012, 1:03

    I looked at the drawing. There doesn’t seem be any obvious way to drive from Adelaide Road to the Mt Vic tunnel.
    PS No obvious way to drive from Hataitai to Cambridge Terrace either.

  7. insider, 26. September 2012, 9:33

    Confused is correct Ed. Perhaps not be so dismissive next time.

    The arch centre accept the Adelaide Rd-Hataitai is a change but said the number of movements was very low so they don’t consider it a major one. Re the other one you’d have to go to Taranaki St – I don’t think Rugby/Tasman/Tory is an option using this

    No solution, be it option x or nzta, is going to be perfect for everyone. It depends on how many compromises you want to make

  8. Guy, 26. September 2012, 9:48

    There are ways to do both of those things, but they involve a little more effort. Cars going to those destinations will have to travel a little bit further, around a few more corners, because the amount of people taking those routes is very low. People coming from the southern suburbs will tend to take the route through Newtown and Kilbirnie rather than go all the way in to the Basin only to turn round and come back. The aim of Option X was to enable some big, major moves, that would have the benefit of improving life for all Wellingtonians, not just those in cars going round a giant roundabout.

    One of those key moves was to recognise that Memorial Park would be better off for all involved if the road there was to go underground, rather than at the surface, destroying the Park. It took a few years to get there (Arch Centre has been pushing for that since 2005), but now the politicians are on board, and it is going ahead.

    The other big move is that Basin Reserve stops being a roundabout. That just cuts it off from all the activity except cars. Arch Centre’s rationale was that if the south-east side of the Basin Roundabout could have cars removed from it, then safe walking routes and parkland can flow from Government House and the numerous schools marooned inside this traffic hell, all the way across the Basin and link up to Memorial Park and hence to Taranaki St, making Wellington a thoroughly more pleasant place to be.

    The lack of a need for a flyover is just a bonus, but it is now recognised as a significant cost saving as well. Grade separation of north-south (local) flow is achieved against the east-west (airport) flow. The inconveniencing to just a small number of car-users is worth it in comparison to the vast improvement in life for a majority of Wellingtonians.

  9. Kent Duston, 26. September 2012, 16:49

    What I love about Option X is that it presents an urban design solution, rather than just a transport solution. Cars don’t move around the city in isolation; they’re just one factor that needs to be taken into account when designing a liveable and efficient city. So good on the Architectural Centre for coming up with a design that addresses all the aspects of the Basin precinct – including the financial ones.

  10. Paula Warren, 26. September 2012, 20:27

    It isn’t a great surprise that Option X is cheaper. In fact from what I’ve seen the flyover would be an amazingly expensive road per km.

    I don’t necessarily think Option X is perfect. But it has a key feature that makes it infinitely better than anything NZTA has considered – it isn’t a traffic management option. It’s about making the Basin area work well for a whole range of values. Chris Finlayson’s memorial park proposal has also been popular because it addresses urban design – how the whole place works. All NZTA ever want to think about is roads and traffic, as if those were what should dominate everything else.

    And they have been sadly effective – just look at the mess known as the bypass. Anyone who believes the claim of NZTA that their option will make things better for pedestrians should take a stroll down Willis Street and remind themselves that it’s always rhetoric, and not reality.

  11. Christine, 26. September 2012, 20:40

    Just following up from Confused’s comments. The traffic information suggesting very few cars use the Basin to go from Adelaide Rd to the Mt Vic tunnel is in the NZTA “Transportation Technical Note” p. 7 at http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/basin-reserve/docs/basin-reserve-transportation-technical-note.pdf
    The relevant diagram is Fig 2.1 “Origins and Destinations for Trips Travelling through the Basin Reserve.” Their numbers are (from Adelaide Rd) 50% turning left on to SH1 (Buckle St) and 50% going straight ahead down Cambridge Tce.

  12. Sridhar, 27. September 2012, 8:09

    All this wranglings can be avoided if we first go for stregthening of public transport including light rail. That would have got people leaving their cars behind. Then we might realise, “hey! we need to build neither flyover nor option X”.
    But nah! we want short term solutions only, don’t we!

  13. scooter, 27. September 2012, 11:51

    What i dont like about this scheme is amount of lanes across the northern entry. I dont buy into the pedestrian bridge being the method of traversing this, although there could be some interesting design solutions integrating the bridge into the stand. Are there other options here? I think a neater termination of the historic kent cambridge aisle is necessary, this scheme presents a traffic dominated space (8+ lanes?).

  14. Elaine Hampton, 27. September 2012, 14:44

    Option X has the lot, Brilliant urban design for drivers, walkers, residents,cyclists, mothers with buggies, school children, cricketers and allows for a light rail to be added.

    Look again you doubters,

    There again, as traffic is static and dropping – NZTA figures – and traffic kills more people as pollution than accidents – NZTA figures. We could do nothing – but option X will be a fine solution to that end of the ‘boulevard’

  15. Trish Janes, 27. September 2012, 20:47

    If NZTA say that tunneling under Kent/Cambridge Tce is too boggy, perhaps it is time to dust off the old plan to lift the playing field. Then the traffic to and from the Mt Victoria tunnel can remain “at grade”, with traffic flowing straight across the Basin, beneath the grass. Instead of digging, just lift the surface! Simple. Why didn’t someone think of that before?

  16. Cr Daran Ponter, 28. September 2012, 15:32

    Good article Christine. Even more reason for Option X.