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Project introduction

In the wake of the Basin Bridge decision an alliance has been established between Wellington City Council, the Transport Agency and Greater Wellington Regional Council to develop an integrated multi-modal solution for Wellington’s transport needs.

Latest news

In the wake of the Basin Bridge decision an alliance has been established between Wellington City Council, the Transport Agency and Greater Wellington Regional Council to develop an integrated multi-modal solution for Wellington’s transport needs. The focus is the area from Ngauranga Gorge to the Airport, encompassing the Wellington Urban Motorway and connections to Wellington Hospital and eastern and southern suburbs.

Called Let’s Get Wellington Moving (external link)  this alliance has a programme to develop and consult on recommended scenario/s by early 2017.

While this is being progressed, all previously planned improvements on key parts of the network have been placed on hold, including the Mt Victoria Tunnel Duplication project.

The background

Wellington’s population and economy is expected to keep growing.  As it does, the amount of people travelling to do business, go to school, access healthcare, go to work or generally enjoy the city will also grow. This means changes need to be made to the transport network in Wellington to meet future expectations.

  • Keeping you connected

    Plans to build a second tunnel through Mt Victoria are still underway.  Once it’s finished, the new tunnel and other local projects will help untangle traffic congestion, allow more space for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport, and free up time for you to do the things that are more important to you.

    What we’re proposing:

    • a second Mt Victoria Tunnel for people travelling from the city

    • widening Ruahine Street and Wellington Road to provide additional traffic lanes in either direction and better connections to local roads and recreational facilities

    • a new shared pedestrian and cycle path providing a continuous connection between the existing Cobham Drive facilities and new facilities on the Basin Bridge and Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

    What’s next?

    The Duplication Project will benefit everyone using SH1 between the CBD and eastern suburbs.  Drivers will get safer, more reliable journeys.  Pedestrians and cyclists will benefit from the proposed new 2.5km shared walking and cycling path that will connect Kilbirnie and Hataitai with Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. Public transport also wins. Following on from the recent Public Transport Spine Study (external link) (external link)  we are now working with Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Wellington City Council to make sure plans for a new bus rapid transit system work in well with plans for the second tunnel.

    We know you are interested in what’s happening with the Mt Victoria Tunnel, and we are still planning have open days on the Duplication Project.  We are currently re-evaluating our programme and we are yet to confirm when the open days will be held although they will likely be in 2015. When we have confirmed the date of the open days we will provide more information.

    The open days will give you further information about what we intend to seek Resource Management Act approvals for, including details on how we propose to build the project. Our specialists, along with other members of the project team, will be on hand to talk you through our plans. Details about the open days will be provided closer to the time.

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  • The need for the project

    Wellington’s population and economy will keep growing. As it does, the amount of people travelling to do business, go to school, access healthcare, go to work or generally enjoy the city will also grow. This means we need to make changes to our transport network to meet the future we expect.

    While the basis of the transport improvements between Cobham Drive and Mt Victoria focus on improving SH1, the overall outcomes will generate benefits for the wider transport system beyond just roads. It’s about people, encouraging economic growth and productivity and ensuring that Wellington’s future aspirations can be realised. In order to meet these outcomes we need to connect people to the things that matter to them and make Wellington an attractive place to live, visit and do business.

    Unless changes are made, increased traffic created by population growth and planned developments will progressively affect how SH1, and the surrounding local road transport network, will operate and connect people. This means SH1 needs to be made more efficient and offer more capacity to ensure public transport is more reliable and effective, walking and cycling is more appealing and travel to, from and through the city meets the needs of personal, business and freight traffic.

    These outcomes are part of the Wellington Regional Land Transport Strategy, and the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan in particular, which seek to deliver a multi-modal approach to improving the city’s transport network. One of the Corridor Plan’s key goals is to create a transport system where public transport, walking and cycling take priority along certain key roads in Wellington city. To achieve this, the Corridor Plan identifies changes to SH1 to attract drivers away from our critical local roads, enabling them to be more efficient and effective for the city’s public transport, walking and cycling networks, and allowing Wellington City Council to develop its growth plans.

    The 'Tunnel to Tunnel' project of Buckle Street Underpass, Inner City Bypass Improvements and the Basin Bridge, plays a vital first step in achieving the goals of the Corridor Plan. It unclogs the key bottleneck problems at the Basin Reserve by separating north-south from east-west travel and improves the road network between the Mt Victoria and Terrace Tunnels. It is also vital in helping to improve traffic flow to and from the eastern suburbs, particularly for traffic heading to the city. If the issues at the Basin Reserve are not resolved, then city-bound traffic delays we experience today through the existing tunnel, along Ruahine Street and Wellington Road will get worse. The flow-on effect is that future public transport proposals will be stymied because traffic flow is stalled at the Basin Reserve’s key intersections of Paterson/Dufferin streets as well as Dufferin Street/Adelaide Road.

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  • Current issues

    SH1 between Cobham Drive and the Wellington CBD is currently operating at capacity, affecting how the wider transport network operates. Future traffic growth, as a result of the city’s population, expanding employment and increasing intensification along the city’s planned growth spine, will further exasperate current problems if nothing is done.

    At present city-bound traffic from the airport (westbound) is hindered by how the SH1 network performs, particularly the operational capability of the traffic signals in Kilbirnie and around the Basin Reserve. Traffic heading to the airport from the city (eastbound) is affected by the same traffic signals, as well as the merge at the city-end of the existing Mt Victoria Tunnel.

    These network capacity issues often result in traffic delays and congestion, which regularly occur at peak travelling times during the week and on weekends. These issues also mean travel times vary substantially, meaning a trip you take one day could be 10 minutes longer the next time. To combat this issue many people are using alternatives routes to SH1 (like Oriental Parade) to complete the trip between the eastern suburbs and the city (or beyond).

    In addition to these issues, this section of SH1 suffers from:

    • a high crash rate, particularly at Wellington Road/Ruahine Street intersection

    • poor pedestrian and cycling facilities through the existing Mt Victoria Tunnel

    • poor pedestrian and cycling connectivity, particularly on Ruahine Street where access to and from Hataitai Park and the Town Belt is difficult

    • safety issues created by too many private properties accessing SH1.

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  • Some outcomes you can expect
    • Reduced congestion, improved journey times and travel reliability on SH1 and key local roads. 
      For example, in 2031, with all our planned improvements for the section of SH1 between Wellington Airport and the Terrace Tunnel in place, you can expect travel time savings of between seven and 10 minutes compared with the ‘do-minimum/nothing’ scenario. Without these improvements in place you can expect the same journey to take up to 30 minutes or more.

    • Fewer accidents, notably at key intersections such as the Wellington Road/Ruahine Street intersection.

    • Significantly improved pedestrian and cycling facilities. New links will be created between the National War Memorial Park (to be completed in 2015), the Basin Bridge and Cobham Drive. This link will include a new shared pedestrian/cycle path through the second tunnel and a new shared pedestrian/cycle/slow vehicle lane along Ruahine Street and Wellington Road.

    • Improved safety for pedestrians and cyclists on key local roads (such as Evans Bay Parade) as fewer general vehicles should be using these routes.

    • Improved pedestrian and cyclist access to and from Hataitai Park/Town Belt.

    • Improved transport connections will mean some businesses will find it easier, and more cost effective, to do business with others between the city and the eastern suburbs. This will help with economic growth and productivity in the city and the region.

    • A possible new ‘green link’ that will link the Town Belt with Kilbirnie Park along Wellington Road.

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  • Indicative project timelines

    2013–late 2014

    Investigating

    2015

    Open days

    2015

    Seek RMA approvals for the SH1 improvements

    2016–2017

    Detailed design stats

    2018–2022

    Construction

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Community engagement

The Transport Agency has been engaging and consulting with the community since 2011 on the Mt Victoria Tunnel Duplication Project.  We know you are interested in our plans for this section of State Highway 1, and we plan to have open days in the future.  These information days will provide you with further information about what we intend to seek RMA approvals for, including details on how we propose to build the project.  Our specialists, along with other members of the project team, will be on hand to talk you through our plans. Details about opens days will be provided closer to the time.

  • Current engagement

    We have talked with people and businesses whose properties would be directly affected by our plans. These discussions have been a priority for us as they assist us to prepare our Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) document that supports our RMA applications required for the project.

    Some of the key areas we have considered include:

    • more work to understand how the construction and operation of the final improvements will effect the environment (eg noise, vibration and air quality effects)

    • developing measures that will help to mitigate the potential environmental effects of the proposed improvements (eg key areas to landscape, noise reduction measures and soil removal)

    • refining the design of the pedestrian/cycle facility through the tunnel

    • refining the design of the shared pedestrian/cycle/slow vehicle lane along Ruahine Street and Wellington Road

    • refining the design of the proposed ‘green link’ along Wellington Road.

    In preparing the AEE, we want to get your feedback, particularly how we should manage and/or mitigate the potential effects of the project on the environment. We expect to engage with you on ways to mitigate such effects later this year. Once this is completed, we expect to finalise our AEE and RMA applications before seeking approval via the national consenting process in 2015.

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  • Previous engagement

    The NZ Transport Agency considered community feedback provided in 2011, which confirmed the shape of the project. Further community engagement has been ongoing as the project team develops an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) document in order to support its RMA consent applications.  We expect to lodge these applications in the middle of 2014.

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  • Community engagement report

    In July and August 2011, the Transport Agency undertook a 'community engagement programme', in which we invited the community to comment on these proposals and their overall effects and on some design aspects on which we had yet to make final decisions, such as:

    • whether we should build a separate pedestrian cyclist facility on the Paterson-Tory Street Bridge; and

    • how pedestrians and cyclists should be separated from other traffic in the second Mt Victoria Tunnel.

    Feedback and submissions from the community helped us make decisions on the above matters, including the location for the bridge, as well as informing the preparation of the Resource Management Act (RMA) applications for the proposals.

    This report describes the community engagement programme and summarises the feedback we received.

    View our Community engagement summary report  [PDF, 4.4 MB]

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  • Why we asked for feedback

    We asked for your views on whether the State Highway 1 improvements were needed when the Ngauranga to Wellington Airport Corridor Plan was developed and adopted in 2008. In 2011 we wanted to know what you thought about a key aspect of these improvements: the State Highway 1 route from Cobham Drive to Buckle Street.

    This information helped inform our final proposal, which we unveiled to the public in June 2013.

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Frequently asked questions

Below are answers to many of the questions we're being asked about the proposals for transport improvements between the Mt Victoria Tunnel and Cobham Drive. We will update these as the project progresses.

  • What are the Transport Agency's confirmed proposals for the Mt Victoria Tunnel Duplication project?

    We are proposing to build a second Mt Victoria Tunnel for people travelling from the city,  widening Ruahine Street and Wellington Road to provide additional traffic lanes in either direction and better connections to local roads and recreational facilities, creating a new shared pedestrian and cycle path, providing a continuous connection between the existing Cobham Drive facilities and building new facilities on the Basin Bridge and National War Memorial Park.

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  • What has changed since public consultation took place in 2011?

    Following public feedback we have chosen to fully separate the pedestrian/cyclist facility through the second tunnel. We are also moving the location of the pedestrian/cycle facility along Paterson Street to avoid removing houses. The facility will rejoin with Paterson Street near St Joseph’s Church to connect with the Basin Bridge pedestrian/cycle facility.

    Along Ruahine Street, a key change has been to reduced the "footprint" size of the road and change the intersection of Goa Street and Ruahine Street. This means we will need less land from the Town Belt than we first thought. It also means that Badminton Hall will now be only partially affected, and could be retained in its current location. The Goa Street intersection will not cater for all turning movements, instead becoming one of the key exit points from Hataitai Village. This means that vehicles will not be able to turn in to Goa Street from the Highway. Access from Hataitai Park to Goa Street will be maintained.

    Along Wellington Road, the key change has again been to reduce the “footprint” size of Ruahine Street, in particular the Wellington Road/Ruahine Street intersection. This means we need less land from the Town Belt than we first first and the look of the “cut” into the hill near Badminton Hall will be reduced.

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  • What are the next steps for the project?

    We are talking with people and businesses whose properties will be directly affected by our proposed plans. These discussions are a priority for us. We are also preparing an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) document in order to support the RMA approvals required for the improvements.

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  • How did you decide on the different options?

    We developed scoping reports for the Tunnel to Tunnel Transport Improvements, the Mt Victoria Tunnel duplication and the Ruahine Street and Wellington Road upgrades.

    These reports outline the options and assessments, which we used to develop the proposals.

    The Scheme Assessment Report details the proposal that is being progressed.

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  • Why do we need a second Mt Victoria tunnel?

    Mt Victoria Tunnel is currently a choke point in the traffic flow on State Highway 1. The need for a duplicate tunnel was identified more than 30 years ago, and more recently as part of the Ngauranga to Wellington Airport Corridor Plan and plans for the Wellington Northern Corridor as part of the 'roads of national significance' programme.

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  • Why do we need to change anything on Ruahine Street?

    Ruahine Street is only one lane in each direction and is regularly congested with traffic. During peak times traffic is backed up along Ruahine Street and Wellington Road along to and beyond the Cobham Drive intersection.

    At peak times the Ruahine Street/Taurima Street intersection is unsafe, as vehicles try to turn right out of Taurima Street into the Mt Victoria Tunnel.

    The current intersection at Ruahine and Goa Streets, which provides access between State Highway 1 and Hataitai Park, is regularly congested, particularly at weekends.

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  • Why does Ruahine Street need additional lanes?

    he traffic on this part of State Highway 1 is expected to increase by up to 70% by 2026. If we do nothing, or do the minimum, motorists will have to use alternatives routes to and from the central business district, including Evans Bay Parade, around the bays, and Constable Street through Newtown - affecting not only motorists but also public transport users, pedestrians, cyclists and local residents.

    Given the proposal to build a duplicate Mt Victoria Tunnel, we need to widen Ruahine Street and Wellington Road so that there are at least two lanes in each direction.

    This part of State Highway 1 also connects to smaller local roads, so we need to provide traffic signals and additional lanes at these intersections to ensure they operate efficiently. Because of the short distances between intersections along this route, the additional lanes have to be extended along most of Ruahine Street and Wellington Road.

    This option will:

    • Be attractive to users

    • Increase journey time reliability and speed, and reduce travel times

    • Take traffic away from alternative routes. If nothing is done by 2026, traffic levels on Evans Bay Parade and Constable Street are likely to be similar to, or slightly below, those of today.

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  • How will these improvements affect access to sporting facilities?

    These proposals will improve safety and access to sporting facilities by providing a new intersection with traffic signals at Hataitai Park, providing a new recreational 'green belt' link from the Town Belt to Kilbirnie Park, and improving journeys to the Indoor Sports Centre.

    These proposed improvements will improve safety and access to sporting facilities. A new signalised intersection will be created at the junction of Goa Street, Ruahine Street and Hataitai Park. This will mean vehicles will no longer have to cross in front of oncoming traffic travelling at 70km/h when turning in and out of Hataitai Park (as well as Goa Street).

    We will also be providing a 'green belt' link which will give people a public link between the Town Belt and Kilbirnie Park to facilitate recreational activities such as dog walking and day hiking. This will help to open up Kilbirnie as a recreational space for the public.

    These improvements will also improve the ease, travel times and safety of journeys between the CBD and the new Indoor Sports Centre in Kilbirnie.

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  • How will these proposed improvements affect the Town Belt?

    To accommodate the widening of Ruahine Street the road will need to encroach into the Town Belt. We plan to offset this by proposing the "green link” along Wellington Road.

    We are proposing to encroach into the Town Belt because the alternative would be to remove a large number of residential properties on the eastern side of Ruahine Street.

    We appreciate that the Town Belt has significance for the Wellington region, and we're committed to minimising our impacts on it and on nearby property owners. However, it's important to remember that there is an existing 25 metre designation for road expansion which has been in place as part of the Wellington City Council District Plan for around 30 years, signalling to the community an intention to widen Ruahine St into the Town Belt.

    The Town Belt is governed by a deed of trust and a number of Acts. Town Belt land can be compulsorily acquired under the Public Works Act for roading purposes.

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  • How is any additional land administered?

    Where compensation includes land, agreements are signed with Wellington City Council on how the land is to vest.

    If the land is to be vested in the Town Belt trustees, the Public Works Act allows it to be vested subject to the Town Belt Deed, Reserves Act 1977 and other associated statutory restrictions, if that is desired. This means that the exchanged land becomes part of the Town Belt reserve, and any restrictions affecting the reserve also apply to the exchanged land.

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  • How have you approached this issue?

    We've spoken directly with all affected parties. Through this process we've provided people with opportunities to access information, discuss their concerns and provide us with feedback.

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