City road and flyover proposals welcomed

At last we have something to talk about. The New Zealand Transport Agency has published two options for the development of the roads and flyover between Buckle Street, the Basin Reserve, a second Mt Victoria tunnel and on out to the airport.

My set of documents arrived in the mail box over the weekend and there was a great spread in the DomPost on Saturday. The NZTA is going all out on this. The documents sent to every household are well written and well presented; there will be lots of opportunities to see the scale models and the public consultation phase is open until 24 August. The NZTA is making it as easy as possible for people to have a say. Just send back your form in the householder. I certainly will be.

Already the naysayers are out there. On Saturday Russell Norman of the Greens, reflecting his party's typical pathological loathing of anything that smacks of commerce, prosperity and development, labelled the plan "a vision for a dull grey city."

How open minded of him! A quick look at two options and he decides that Wellingtonians don't need to get about their city more easily. How does he expect people and goods to move around?  By donkey, on people's backs, by light rail? 

Unsurprisingly the local Chamber of Commerce's spokesman Ken Harris said business welcomed the developments. "Our initial reaction is very positive". 

Frankly so is mine. On the basis of the information given so far (and that's an important caveat), it looks like we can have an alignment of the roading from Buckle Street into a second Mt Victoria tunnel and a widening of the road out of the tunnel to the airport for not a lot of dollars, and we can have a bike and walking lane on either option as well. That sounds like a good piece of design work to me.

Sure, a second tunnel is going to add to the total bill, but there are no surprises there. We have been talking about a second tunnel since at least 1969 to my memory, and after forty plus years it might just be time to do something.

Whichever of the two options is adopted (or any third option for that matter) the people of Mt Victoria will be affected. However, the most affected area - around the corner of the Basin and heading into the tunnel - has become progressively derelict and rundown over the years, and deliberately so, in preparation for precisely this kind of road realignment. NZTA already owns a number of the properties around the area.

So it seems to me that there would be no difficulty proceeding with one of the two options the NZTA offers, and I'd support that, plus a cycle and pedestrian add-on, and then moving ahead as quickly as possible to construct and complete the second tunnel and the road realignment. It would be a positive sign of confidence in the city's future.