17 Aug 2012

High-rise traffic planned near Basin Reserve

8:14 pm on 17 August 2012

Plans to re-route traffic around Wellington's Basin Reserve onto a flyover towering above the cricket ground have horrified its fans, but are being applauded by the capital's business community.

The Transport Agency says it will build a six-metre-high flyover at a cost of $90 million starting near the Mt Victoria tunnel and linking to an underground section to be built below the National War Memorial Park.

It chose this option over a tunnel which would have cost $260 million.

An artist's impression of the proposed Basin Reserve flyover.

An artist's impression of the proposed Basin Reserve flyover. Photo: NZTA

An average of 29,000 vehicles a day use the route around the Basin Reserve, but the two-lane flyover will separate local traffic from vehicles travelling between the airport and the motorway, reducing flows by up to 80% on some of the roads now in use.

The agency says the flyover is expected to carry 18,000 vehicles a day by 2021, and that it might have to build a new stand at the ground to mitigate the structure's visual impact.

Save the Basin Reserve Campaign convener Kent Duston has a number of criticisms of the plan for a flyover just 20m from the ground's northern entrance.

A flyover would be at the same level as the eastern embankment, which is protected by the Historic Places Trust, he says.

Mr Duston says he is optimistic that the Transport Minister may step in and convince the New Zealand Transport Agency to go back to the drawing board.

Some Wellingtonians are also worried what a flyover would do to that part of the city.

Voices supporting the Transport Agency's plan include Wellington Airport, which says it will help keep airport travel times.

The Employers Chamber of Commerce says it is looking forward the improvement to a road layout it says is clogging up the Wellington traffic flows.

Wellington City Councillor Simon Marsh is convinced the bridge will improve traffic flows, saying the council has suggested ways to minimise the visual impact, including plantings and artwork.

The flyover will be subject to a resource consent hearing next year, and construction is expected to start in mid-to-late 2014.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party says the flyover plans are "half-baked". Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson says they don't even include mention of a second tunnel through Mt Victoria for airport traffic.

Mr Robertson says the Government's apparent piecemeal approach may simply shift the congestion problem rather than solve it.