A better transport future for Wellington City is a step closer, with details released today of a comprehensive package of transport infrastructure proposals that will make getting around the city easier for everyone.
The NZ Transport Agency, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Wellington City Council today released the final report of the Public Transport Spine Study about future public transport options for the city. At the same time, NZTA released refined plans for State Highway 1 including the Basin Bridge, Mount Victoria Tunnel duplication, and widening of Ruahine Street and Wellington Road.
The announcements highlight a package of proposed improvements that will ensure Wellington remains a liveable city supported by an efficient, safe transport network. Together they will make it quicker and easier to get to and from the city’s southern and eastern suburbs by public transport, car, cycle or on foot – helping to ensure the city remains a great place to live, visit and do business.
The Public Transport Spine Study’s final report outlines the findings of the joint study seeking to understand the feasibility of a high-performing public transport network spine, through the CBD and on to Kilbirnie. The report compares three options (shortlisted from an original 88) – bus priority measures, bus rapid transit and light rail – based on a range of factors including cost, travel benefits, and impact on patronage uptake. Feedback from the public will be sought before any decisions are made about which option will be progressed.
Closely linked to the study are the NZTA’s updated proposals for the Basin Bridge, a duplicate Mount Victoria Tunnel, and capacity and safety improvements to State Highway 1 from Ruahine Street to Cobham Drive.
The Basin Bridge proposal will ease congestion at the Basin roundabout by separating traffic travelling east and west from traffic heading to and from Newtown, Berhampore and Island Bay. This will allow for dedicated public transport lanes – which are also essential for any of the future three public transport improvement options outlined in the Spine Study. Freeing up the roads around the Basin will mean quicker journey times for public transport users. The changes will also provide relief for vehicle users and dedicated facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. The NZTA has applied for resource consent on the project, and final designs are now available for the public to view.
Developments include a proposed new gateway building at the Basin Reserve with improved player facilities, and urban design improvements that were not part of the original proposal, including an extension of the Memorial Park public open space all the way to Cambridge Terrace. These have been developed and refined in consultation with the City Council and the Basin Reserve Trust over the past few months to help address the visual impacts of the bridge.
The proposals for Mt Victoria Tunnel to Cobham Drive are at an earlier stage, with feedback now being sought from the public about the refined proposals. The project will increase capacity and safety, reduce journey times, extend the Basin Bridge’s dedicated walking and cycling facilities all the way to Kilbirnie, and potentially allow for further public transport improvements identified in the Spine Study.
The Public Transport Spine Study and the proposed improvements to State Highway 1 and associated walking and cycling improvements all give effect to the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan. The plan, a partnership between the NZTA, Greater Wellington and Wellington City Council, lays out a detailed vision and plan for a well-performing integrated transport network that improves travel for all users and supports growth and an improved quality of life.
The package of improvements is expected to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits to the region, and help to unlock commercial growth and support the expansion of Wellington Airport.
NZTA regional director Jenny Chetwynd says the package of proposals represents a strong commitment to invest in Wellington’s transport and economic future. “A well-connected city is a thriving and growing city. We need to ensure the Wellington region’s economic viability and prosperity by making it easier to do business, by providing quicker access to markets, and giving people easy, safe and efficient choices for getting around.”
“We need a shared commitment to public transport, walking and cycling, and private vehicle travel, because no form of transport exists in isolation from another. We have a very real opportunity to invest in a city and region that fosters growth and provides better journey options for everyone.”
Fran Wilde, Chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Regional Transport Committee, says the package is crucial for the future of the Wellington region. “These important public transport and roading improvements were identified in the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan back in 2008 and it’s great to see progress being made. Easy access to and through the central city, together with enhanced connections to Wellington Airport and the eastern suburbs, is increasingly important for the region’s growth”.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the proposal is an improvement for walking, cycling and public transport.
“Wellington City Council’s consistent push for better urban design and wider transport outcomes has certainly made a difference and we will lead discussions for the best use of the historic crèche building,” she says.