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Project overview

Project introduction

Wellington's Basin Reserve currently functions as a large roundabout with signals. Congestion is affecting SH1 traffic, local traffic, freight, pedestrians, cyclists and bus travel. Following extensive investigations and community engagement, the bridge option (Option A) has been selected.

  • Project type

    Roads of national significance
  • Project status

    Investigation

Purpose

The road network around the Basin Reserve is an important link in the Wellington road of national significance (RoNS), the State Highway 1 corridor between Levin and Wellington Airport. The improvements will assist the smooth flow of traffic between the north and south of Wellington City. The improvements are intended to contribute to providing a high-quality, high-capacity, fast and reliable passenger transport spine as part of the Wellington Northern CorridorRoNS from Levin to Wellington Airport. This will improve the reliability and travel times of the route for through traffic, particularly to Wellington Airport and Wellington Hospital.

Benefits

  • Reduced traffic flows around the Basin Reserve
  • Reduced travel times and congestion
  • Improved passenger transport and local road journey times and reliability
  • Improved freight transport
  • Improved connectivity for people using active travel modes (walking and cycling)
  • More reliable emergency service access to and from Wellington Hospital
  • Improved access and reduced severance to local communities, schools and facilities
  • Improved safety for all travel modes (walking, cycling, and vehicular)

This work is part of the Tunnel to Tunnel (T2T) suite of inner city transport improvements.

Background

The street system around the Basin Reserve currently functions as a large roundabout with signals. About 25,000 vehicles enter from Kent Terrace each day, with nearly 20,000 heading towards Mt Victoria Tunnel. About 20,000 vehicles enter the system from Mt Victoria Tunnel, and 30,000 vehicles travel along Sussex Street.

The streets in this area have several functions: a state highway, a local road, a key public transport route and a key route for pedestrians and cyclists. Congestion is affecting SH1 traffic, local traffic, freight, pedestrians and bus travel. Without intervention, congestion and journey times in the inner city are predicted to increase by up to 75% by 2021.

For example, that means that if we don’t take the right steps to sort this out now, then by 2021 it will take about 16 minutes to from Cobham Drive to Taranaki Street. With the bridge in place, the same trip will only take 10 minutes.

The Greater Wellington Regional Council, Wellington City Council and NZTA agreed in the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan (external link)  (external link) that the north-south traffic needs to be separated from the east-west traffic around the Basin Reserve. So, following extensive investigations and a community engagement programme in 2011, the NZ Transport Agency has decided to build the Basin Bridge as Option A. This bridge forms part of the Tunnel to Tunnel ("T2T") suite of inner city transport improvements.

Key benefits of the Basin Bridge

  • Reduced traffic flows around the Basin Reserve

  • Reduced travel times and congestion

  • Improved passenger transport and local road journey times and reliability

  • Improved freight transport

  • Improved connectivity for people using active travel modes (walking and cycling)

  • More reliable emergency service access to and from Wellington Hospital

  • Improved access and reduced severance to local communities, schools and facilities

  • Improved safety for all travel modes (walking, cycling, and vehicular)

Features

  • Things we considered in deciding to proceed with plans to put SH1 on a bridge

    Our decision to proceed with investigating a bridge was based on thorough investigations and a robust selection process. Even though the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan (external link)  (external link) requires grade separation, we re-considered street-level options, to ensure that a bridge was the most effective solution. We found that the street-level options offered fewer benefits, had a higher level of urban design impacts and were not as good as a bridge in separating SH1 traffic from local traffic. Importantly an at-grade solution would not separate SH1 traffic from local traffic in order to improve the services provided by buses and other forms of public transport between the CBD and Newtown – a key objective of the plan.

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  • The decision to proceed with Option A

    Thorough investigations have shown that the most effective way to separate the north-south and east-west traffic flows in this area is by putting SH1 westbound traffic onto a bridge to the north of the Basin Reserve.

    In 2011, the NZTA engaged with the community on two options for this bridge: 

    Based on investigations done both prior to and after this engagement, plus the feedback we received from stakeholders and the community during the programme, the NZTA will proceed with its preferred option: Option A. You can learn more about how this decision was made by reading the Paterson to Tory Street Option Assessment Report 2012 [PDF, 1.6 MB]. If you’d like to learn more about the community engagement programme you can read the Community engagement summary report [PDF, 4.4 MB].

    Westbound SH1 traffic will travel on a two lane bridge along the northern side of the Basin Reserve. The bridge will be 6 meters above the road (eg Kent and Cambridge Terrace) and 260 meters long and 13 metres wide. The pedestrian/cycle facility will be about 3 metres wide.

    Once exiting the Mt Victoria Tunnel traffic will travel above Paterson Street, over Kent and Cambridge Terraces, Dufferin Street and Ellice Street to meet Buckle Street just before the Tory Street intersection.

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  • The Tunnel to Tunnel ("T2T") project

    At present, Wellington experiences significant congestion, delays and variable travel times on the roads between the Terrace Tunnel to the north and the Mt Victoria Tunnel to the south.  Individual projects to address these issues have been in the works for several years, however the NZ Transport Agency now has the opportunity to bring all this work under one umbrella:  the Tunnel to Tunnel improvement project (or "T2T").

    T2T brings together three key pieces of work: the Basin Bridge, Inner-city Bypass Improvements and the undergrounding of Buckle Street to create Memorial Park. By incorporating these three projects into one, the NZ Transport Agency will be able to create a much more efficient, seamless construction process than by delivering them separately. By combining the three projects into one package of improvements, we expect to create significant savings, both in time and money, and gain the highest level of benefit from the significant investment being made in this area.

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Basin Bridge - project timeline

  • 25 September 2014

    The NZ Transport Agency has decided to appeal the Board of Inquiry’s decision to decline the Basin Bridge RMA consent applications.  An appeal was lodged with the High Court on Wednesday, 24 September, and is expected to address a number of significant points of law that need to be considered and clarified.

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  • 22 July 2014

    Today the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Board of Inquiry released its draft decision regarding consent applications for the Basin Bridge Project.  The draft decision can be found on the EPA’s website (external link) .

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  • 6 June 2014

    The Board of Inquiry hearing for the Basin Bridge Project concluded on the 4 June 2014. A draft decision from the Board is expected on 18 July with the final decision due by 31 August 2014. We would like to recognise the contribution of everyone who took part in the Board of Inquiry process. We appreciate that there are a range of views about this project, and we are grateful to each and every submitter for sharing their perspectives on these significant proposals.

    We are pleased that this process has enabled all relevant evidence to be put forward and tested, and we look forward to the Board’s draft decision in July.

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  • 21 January 2014

    On 21 January, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) filed rebuttal evidence in support of the consent applications for the Basin Bridge Project with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). These documents can be found on the application website. The hearing is currently set to start on 3 February.

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  • 30 October 2013

    On 25 October, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) filed evidence in support of the consent applications for the Basin Bridge Project with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). These documents can be found on the application website.

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  • 5 August 2013

    On 17 June 2013, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) lodged RMA consents applications with the EPA for the Basin Bridge project.

    On 2 August 2013, the Minister for the Environment referred those applications to a Board of Inquiry for determination. The processing time for the applications is expected to be nine months from public notification.

    The Board of Inquiry runs its own process and makes its decision independently of the Environmental Protection Authority and the Minister. It will be chaired by retired Environment and District Court Judge Gordon Whiting.

    More information on the EPA process can be obtained here (external link) .

    The Wellington Northern Corridor is one of seven ‘roads of national significance’ that the Government has identified as essential state highways requiring upgrading to reduce congestion, improve safety and support economic growth in New Zealand.

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FAQs

  • Key facts at a glance

    The bridge will be approximately 263m with a maximum height to the soffit of 7.3m or 9.4m to the road surface and 10.5m to top of guardrail. Its width is between 11.3m at its narrowest and 16.7m at its widest (including the shared pedestrian/cycle facility).

    The bridge has six sets of piers (eight columns) and two joins (one at either end).

    The project proposes to plant 73 trees as part of the project and provides one hectare of new/improved public open space. This is made up of 5360m2 in the new entrance to the National War Memorial Park, 1330m2 through the expanded and improved entrance plaza to the Basin Reserve and 3390m2 with the new pedestrian boulevard between Ellice and Dufferin Streets.

    The full details of the project, including plans and reports, are available on the Basin Bridge Application website

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  • What is the timeframe for building the Basin Bridge?
    ActivityTimeframe
    Announcement on preferred option August 2012
    Public information days November 2012
    Regulatory consents process June 2013
    Bridge construction begins Mid 2014 (anticipated)
    Works complete Mid to late 2016 (anticipated)

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  • Why did the NZ Transport Agency decide to build a bridge?

    The street system around the Basin Reserve currently functions as one of New Zealand’s largest signalised roundabouts. About 25,000 vehicles enter from Kent Terrace each day, with nearly 20,000 heading towards Mt Victoria Tunnel. About 20,000 vehicles enter the system from Mt Victoria Tunnel, and 30,000 vehicles travel along Sussex Street.

    The streets in this area have several functions: a state highway, a local road, a key public transport route and a key route for pedestrians and cyclists. Congestion from these conflicting demands is affecting SH1 traffic, local traffic, freight, pedestrians and bus travel. 

    The Basin Reserve and Inner City Bypass will also deliver some of the key benefits sought in the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan - a plan that is endorsed by the NZ Transport Agency's, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Wellington City Council, and other members of Wellington’s Regional Transport Committee.

    A pivotal part of this plan is the separation of competing streams of traffic at the Basin Reserve, allowing public transport to flow more freely through this area and helping to free up a future dedicated corridor for buses or light rail. Achieving this separation is critical in unlocking the possibilities of the Public Transport Spine study which is currently underway.

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  • Why not choose street-level options?

    Our decision to build a bridge was based on thorough investigations and a robust selection process. And even though the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan requires separation of traffic, we re-considered street-level options, to ensure that a bridge was the most effective solution. We found that the street-level options offered fewer benefits, had a higher level of urban design impacts and were not as good as a bridge in separating SH1 traffic from local traffic. 

    An at-grade solution would also not separate SH1 traffic from local traffic in order to improve the services provided by buses and other forms of public transport between the CBD and Newtown – a key objective of the plan.

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  • Why not put SH1 in a tunnel near the Basin Reserve?

    Tunnelling under the Basin Reserve area was extensively investigated (Option F in the NZTA’s community engagement process), but was discounted because of the complexities of constructing a tunnel in a low-lying swampy landscape, as well as it being a much more expensive option than a bridge.

    Since this decision was made, further geotechnical investigations in the low-lying areas around Kent/Cambridge Terrace have confirmed potentially liquefiable soils, suggested that ground water is present at a higher level than previously expected and that the depth to solid ground is even greater than originally thought. These conditions will increase the challenges associated with any below-ground construction and make tunnelling in this area even less feasible than previously thought. These issues are reflected in the latest cost estimate for Option F ($260 million for the tunnel plus $12 million for the Park).

    In order to safely build and operate a tunnel through soft, liquefiable soils, the NZTA would have to use a much more complex engineering design than what is needed for the Buckle Street underpass.  The bottom of the tunnel would be below sea level, and along with adding to the complexities of construction, this would leave the tunnel at significant risk of tsunami damage.  A bridge can be built to withstand a 1 in 2500 year earthquake.

    Other impacts of this option include the ongoing costs of maintaining such a complex structure, the need to install pumping stations and ventilation facilities into the park and the level of disruption to traffic and utility services. All of these would likely add to the cost of such a tunnel. It would also mean that vehicles using the tunnel would have to drive into it on an 8% downhill gradient, which is not desirable from a safety perspective.

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  • Why can't we just add bus lanes, bus-only phases and yellow crosshatching to address issues around the Basin?

    Some people have suggested that we extend the northbound bus lane on Adelaide Road right to the intersection and add an initial bus-only phase to the signals and crosshatching to the road. This, they say, would enable buses to get across the tailback on State Highway 1 from Taranaki/Tory Streets, which currently prevents access to the inner lane.

    However:

    • Extending the bus lane right to the intersection would leave only one lane (instead of two) for general vehicles turning left to Rugby Street from Adelaide Road. When combined with the suggested additional bus-only phase, the intersection's capacity would be severely limited, leading to extensive congestion on Adelaide Road and SH1 back to Kent Terrace southbound, and delays in bus travel.
    • Crosshatching would deliver minimal benefits; traffic volumes and road configurations means that motorists would generally stop on it.
    • The proposal to extend the bus lane to the stop line on Adelaide Road, with a bus-only phase, is part of this project. However, it's only achievable if we remove the heavy SH1 westbound traffic from Rugby Street.

    Other suggestions have included:

    • Providing a bus priority lane at the Dufferin/Paterson intersection. This would require us to create a dedicated bus lane on the intersection approach, leaving only one lane for through traffic on Dufferin Street. It would have a significant impact on the intersection capacity and result in extensive traffic queues.
    • Extending crosshatching all the way from the Paterson/Dufferin Streets intersection to the Rugby Street/Dufferin Street/Government House corner (where separate lanes for SH1 and Adelaide Road traffic are provided); and adding crosshatching at Ellice Street to prevent a backlog from Mt Victoria Tunnel blocking buses getting to the Basin Reserve lanes. However, the Mt Victoria Tunnel duplication and Ruahine Street improvements should reduce these problems.
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  • Why did the NZ Transport Agency choose Option A?

    After the decision was made that the most effective way to separate the north-south and east-west traffic flows around the Basin was with a bridge, the NZ Transport Agency then designed two options: A [PDF, 458 KB] (the preferred option) and B [PDF, 469 KB].

    In 2011, we engaged with the community on both options. Option A was the bridge location favoured by submitters concerned about:

    • Traffic noise and air quality for surrounding residents
    • Cost, and
    • Cityscape and character.

    Option B was the bridge location favoured by submitters concerned about:

    • Traffic noise and air quality at the Basin Reserve, and
    • Heritage effects on the Basin Reserve and the former Home of compassion Crèche building.

    There was strong community support for a pedestrian/cyclist facility to be included on the bridge.

    Following community feedback, the project team, representing all specialist disciplines involved in this project, rated Options A and B as they affect each specialist discipline area.

    Both bridges rated the same for ecology, archaeology, air quality, noise and heritage. However, Option A gave more positive ratings from social impact, transport, urban design and landscape. It also provided better value for money and impacted on fewer properties.

    So, based on investigations done prior to and after this engagement, plus the feedback we received from stakeholders and the community during the programme, the NZ Transport Agency has decided to build its preferred option:  Option A. The bridge will include a pedestrian and cycleway.

    You can learn more about how the decision was made by reading the Option Selection Report.  If you’d like to see the feedback we received you can read the Community engagement summary report in the publications section.

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  • How does this decision reflect the community feedback you received?

    During the July-August 2011 community engagement programme, we received just over 2000 submissions from across the Wellington region on the transport improvements between Cobham Drive and Buckle Street. We listened to the community’s feedback and worked closely with key stakeholders, and this has helped us to refine and complete the Bridge design and the wider package of T2T improvements.

    The NZ Transport Agency is now ready to deliver on the T2T proposals that gained widespread support last year, including:

    • Putting Buckle Street underground to build the new NZ Memorial Park
    • A cycle and pedestrian facility will be incorporated into the design of the Basin Bridge
    • A bridge option that achieves the best value for money
    • Effective transport improvements that also protect the community from excessive traffic noise, air quality issues and visual effects
    • A solution that supports the area’s built heritage, including the Basin Reserve, Memorial Precinct and historic former Home of Compassion crèche on Buckle Street.
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  • How will you manage the effects of a bridge on the Hawkins Basin Reserve Cricket Ground?

    We respect the Basin Reserve’s special status, not just in Wellington, but in New Zealand. It is our oldest first-class ground and the only sporting ground in the country registered by the Historic Places Trust. 

    We have been working closely with the Basin Reserve Trust to protect its heritage status, and to mitigate any potential effects the bridge may have on it as a sporting venue, and ensure people can continue enjoying it into the future. As a result, the NZ Transport Agency’s RMA applications includes a proposal to build a new Basin Reserve Northern Gateway building, which, along with planting, is designed to mitigate the visual impact of the new bridge on the cricket ground.

    Wellington City Council, the Basin Reserve Trust and the NZ Transport Agency have collectively agreed that a structure will be included in the consent application and the proposed building, on the northern edge of the cricket ground, will be a three level structure, roughly 65m long, extending from the existing players’ pavilion to the existing toilet block.

    The Gateway building will link with the proposed new pedestrian plaza at the end of Kent and Cambridge Terraces and include a new main entrance to the cricket ground and modern facilities for players’ and officials above.

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  • What has the NZ Transport Agency done to mitigate the effects of the project?

    The NZ Transport Agency has included a package of improvements to address the environmental effects of the project. This includes landscaping, new/revised footpaths, alterations to the road and path along Dufferin Street, adjustments to the St Joseph’s Church carpark, a building under the bridge on the corner of Ellice Street and Kent Terrace, lighting both on and under the bridge, a dedicated pedestrian/cycle path on the bridge.

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  • What does the consents application do?

    The NZ Transport Agency application for the designation and resource consents for the Basin Bridge project has been lodged under the new national consenting process through the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). The EPA was set up as part of the governmental move to streamline and simplify the resource consent application process. One of the benefits of the EPA process is the shorter timeframe for considering applications which therefore allows outcomes to be known much more quickly than previously. The entire consenting process, using the EPA path, is expected to take less than a year.

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  • What happens now that the applications have been lodged?

    Now that the applications have been lodged, the EPA needs to consider how the application will be heard. They will then notify the community about the application and call for submissions. Depending on the direction the application takes, the consenting process is anticipated to take nine months to complete from the time the application is publicly notified.

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Project Contacts

Basin Bridge – basin-bridge@nzta.govt.nz
More contact info
  • Phone: 0508 9484 4636.

  • You can also write to us at:

    The Tunnel to Tunnel team
    NZ Transport Agency
    P O Box 10042
    The Terrace
    Wellington 6143

    Your personal information will remain confidential.

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