A four-person independent panel charged with deciding whether to give resource consent to a controversial flyover project is sitting in Wellington.
The flyover, which is about 260 metres long, runs from Buckle Street to the Mount Victoria tunnel at an estimated cost of $90 million.
Some 215 submissions were received for the proposal, with more than 80 percent of submitters opposed. The panel is considering those submissions and will hear from about 60 submitters over the next eight weeks.
The flyover will be about 263 metres long with a height from the ground of about 7.3 metres, up to 9.4 metres to the road surface.
A draft report is expected to be prepared by 17 April this year, while a final report will be released by June.
SUPPORTING THE FLYOVER
NEW ZEALAND TRANSPORT AGENCY
Urban design, landscape and visual effects: Submitters have called the flyover "ugly" and an "eyesore". The New Zealand Transport Agency says a project of this size will always have an impact on the landscape, but it has done its best to mitigate problems where it can and reduce adverse effects. The project is a response to the "blight" that has affected the land to the north and northeast of the Basin Reserve after uncertainty over roading plans for several decades. The flyover will solve this uncertainty by setting up a long-term option.
Impact on the Basin Reserve: Submitters raised concerns about the effect on the Basin Reserve as a cricket ground, particularly the visual distraction effects of traffic on the flyover and the possible loss of test match accreditation. The NZTA proposes building a Northern Gateway Building between the R A Vance stand and the toilet block. It will screen views of the flyover, ensuring that cricket can still be played at the site. The option of a screen was rejected for urban design reasons.
Economic Benefits: The project will improve efficiency of the capital's transport network, which in turn will see an improvement in Wellington's productivity and competitiveness. The construction of the project will also bring jobs and money to the region.
Noise and Vibration: Submitters raised concerns the project will generate adverse traffic noise during cricket matches and will disrupt classrooms, church services and sleep at night for nearby residents. The NZTA says the project will have very little effect on noise or vibration levels in the area.
WELLINGTON CITY COUNCIL AND BASIN RESERVE TRUST
Supports flyover on the condition of a suitably designed 65-metre-long Northern Gateway Building on the Basin Reserve between the R A Vance stand and the toilet block, restricting the view into the Basin Reserve.
GREATER WELLINGTON REGIONAL COUNCIL
Supports flyover, subject to the conditions relating to groundwater management and erosion and sediment control. It says the proposal is consistent with other transport objectives - provides improvements to pedestrians and cyclists, an increased level of safety for all road users and reduced congestion.
HISTORIC PLACES TRUST
Supports flyover subject to several conditions to mitigate adverse effects. These include:
- The trust is included in the planning and design plans for the proposal.
- The Northern Gateway Area be included so it will act as a screen for the Basin Reserve.
- The CS Dempster Gate be relocated to the southern side of the Basin Reserve next to the J R Reid Gate.
AGAINST THE FLYOVER
SAVE THE BASIN AND MOUNT VICTORIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The site includes a collection of nationally important historical sites including the National War Memorial, Government House, Museum Stand and William Wakefield Memorial. The groups believe the flyover has major adverse impacts on this heritage area that cannot be adequately mitigated.
- Flyover has severe effect on the Basin Reserve and surrounding area that cannot be mitigated, including the area under the bypass will be cold, shaded and unattractive.
- Adequate consideration hasn't been given to the alternatives and the criteria used to assess the alternatives has been altered throughout the assessment, resulting in confused assessments.
- Proposal is not economically efficient.
MOUNT VICTORIA RESIDENTS' ASSOCIATION
The association's lawyer, Con Anastasiou, made these points opposing the flyover:
- The area is socially, economically and culturally crucial to people living around it and the NZTA is ignoring that.
- The Basin Reserve is one of, if not Wellington's most important site, and while the waterfront and central business districts have changed over time, the Basin Reserve has been a stable hub.
- The association doesn't want the screen building that NZTA is proposing, saying it solves a problem created by the flyover and does nothing to enhance the Basin Reserve area.
NEWTOWN RESIDENTS' ASSOCIATION
LOCAL RESIDENT'S SUBMISSION
Dennis Foot says the Basin Reserve is world-renowned and can be found in world roundabout calendars.
BRREO: The Basin Reserve Roundabout Enhancement Option (BRREO) put forward by the Save the Basin Campaign and the Mt Victoria Residents Association.
This option involves upgrading the existing Basin Roundabout by widening Paterson Street westbound up to Dufferin St and widening Dufferin Street to between Paterson Street and Rugby Street. This will provide three continuous lanes westbound around the roundabout from the Mt Victoria tunnel exit to Buckle Street/Karo Drive.
Requires no improvements to the existing roundabout until the Mt Victoria tunnel is duplicated.
Caters adequately for other transport options including buses, cyclists and pedestrians.
Avoids the significant adverse environmental effects of the flyover proposal, which have not been taken into account by the NZTA in its assessment of the bridge.
What the NZTA says about BRREO :
What the Wellington City Council and the Basin Reserve Trust say about BRREO:
- Says while it is common to plant trees or construct a screen to obscure a highway, the NZTA shouldn't be allowed to do this in an historic area.
- It wants the board of inquiry to investigate whether enough or appropriate consideration was given to other transport solutions to Wellington's congestion problems.
- It allows some increased capacity, but little or no reduction in journey times for those travelling west between Paterson and Tory streets.
- Pedestrians and cyclists will be disadvantaged because of more circulating traffic and a greater number of lanes to cross.
- Lane widths appear to be deficient.
- Significant loss of car parking spaces.
- While the concept will provide traffic benefits of approximately 40 percent of those achieved by the project, it will fail to deliver public transport, pedestrian, cycle and safety benefits.
- Amounts to a minor patch to the existing layout and will cause problems.
- It will not deliver improved transport outcomes and does not address the issue with the existing layout.
- Will not support a high quality public transport design required to deliver future urban growth.
- Doesn't increase walking and cycling options through the area.
- Doesn't account for future traffic needs, particularly if the Mount Victoria tunnel is duplicated.