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Capacity of Ruahine Street to be doubled as link to second Mt Victoria tunnel

Media release from NZ Transport Agency
More details for a second Mt Victoria tunnel and road widening along Ruahine Street and Wellington Road were released today.

The Agency’s regional director Jenny Chetwynd says says the plans along Ruahine Street and Wellington Road have been future-proofed to be compatible with all potential options identified in the Public Transport Spine Study. Ms Chetwynd says development of the proposals, which were initially planned to be released earlier this year, was slowed down by the NZTA to ensure the proposals considered the potential need to future-proof the route to accommodate the outcomes of the Public Transport Spine Study.

“We consulted with the public in 2011 on proposed improvements between Paterson Street and Cobham Drive and after listening to the community we have made some key changes to these improvements.

“The improvements remain broadly the same in terms of where the road will be located and how it will function. The big changes occur along Ruahine Street where the width of the road has been reduced and therefore, the amount of land required from the Town Belt also reduces. This is a positive result as this was a concern raised through our consultation.

“Currently, traffic along Ruahine Street moves at snail’s pace during peak hour and there isn’t much provision for pedestrians and cyclists. Doubling the capacity of Ruahine Street, putting in a new facility for people travelling on foot or by bike, and linking it all to a second Mount Victoria Tunnel will make a world of difference to everyday travel.

“Increasing capacity and improving journey times through this route will help to support the continued growth of the airport and Eastern Suburbs, and make trips to catch a plane less fraught with uncertainty.”

Ms Chetwynd says the initial proposals saw Ruahine Street increased to up to seven lanes for highway traffic when turning lanes were included; the new proposals see a maximum of four lanes along the vast majority of Ruahine Street’s length. She says there are some trade-offs as a result of the reduced land take, with some turning movements at Goa Street restricted and the width of the pedestrian/cycle/slow vehicle lane (for residents accessing properties) reduced. This will not affect how the project operates when it is completed.

The pedestrian/cycle facility location on the city-side of the project has also changed. This now moves away from Paterson Street on a newly constructed path that will connect with Brougham Street. From here, the path connects to the pedestrian/cycle facilities included in both the Basin Bridge Project and National War Memorial Park. The existing path through the current Mt Victoria Tunnel will be removed once the new tunnel has been constructed.

As a priority, the project team have been talking to people whose properties are directly affected by the project to give them further clarity. The team is preparing an assessment of environmental effects document to support RMA consent applications, which the NZTA is likely to seek next year, pending further work on the Public Transport Spine.

Ms Chetwynd says further opportunities will be extended to the community to provide feedback on the improvements. The final form of the Ruahine Street and Wellington Road shared pedestrian/cycle/slow vehicle lane also needs to be considered further.

More details of these proposals can be viewed at wwww.nzta.govt.nz/mt-vic-duplicatio