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The Tunnel to Tunnel Inner-city Transport Improvements

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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.

  • Project type

    Infrastructure upgrade, Road improvements, Road management
  • Project status

    On hold

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)(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.

T2T related projects

The Tunnel to Tunnel Inner-city Transport Improvements has three projects under it:

Project details

  • Background

    The need for improvements to Wellington’s inner city transport network has long being recognised.  There have been a number of investigations into improvements around the Basin Reserve undertaken at various times, and the construction of the Inner City Bypass in 2007 was the first major step in addressing some of the city’s transport issues.

    In 2008, Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC), Wellington City Council (WCC) and the NZTA all agreed to the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan(external link), which was informed by the Ngauranga to Airport Strategy Study(external link) and forms part of the Wellington Regional Land Transport Strategy 2010-40(external link).

    The Plan aims to strengthen the four key transport elements within the City, which are:

    • A high quality and frequency passenger transport ‘spine’

    • Highly accessible and attractive ‘activity’ or shopping streets

    • A reliable and accessible ‘ring’ or bypass route for vehicles, and

    • Interconnected and convenient local street, walking, cycling and passenger transport networks.

    T2T is also part of the Wellington Northern Corridor portion of the Roads of National Significance, and it will be the first part of the Ngaraunga to Airport projects to be completed. This will help ease SH1 traffic and help achieve WCC, GWRC and NZTA’s plans for a high-quality public transport spine.

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  • At present

    The road network around the Basin Reserve currently accommodates significant local and strategic movements; both north-south and south-north traffic flows between the Wellington CBD and Wellington’s southern suburbs, and traffic flows of State Highway One (SH1). Between the Terrace and Mount Victoria Tunnels, SH1 eastbound and westbound traffic flows follow different street systems to the routes known as the Wellington Inner City Bypass.

    Eastbound traffic exits the Terrace Tunnel and follows Vivian Street and Kent Terrace, approaching the Basin Reserve from the north, before travelling along Paterson Street to the Mount Victoria tunnel. Westbound traffic exits Mount Victoria Tunnel and approaches the Basin Reserve from the east, before travelling along Buckle Street to the Terrace Tunnel.

    The street system around the Basin Reserve functions like a very large roundabout with traffic signals. Traffic moves clockwise, with major entry and exit points distributed around the periphery. Daily, about 26,000 vehicles enter from Kent Terrace, with 18,000 vehicles exiting towards the Mount Victoria Tunnel, heading east. These flows are replenished by another 18,000 vehicles which come onto the roundabout from the Mount Victoria Tunnel heading west. Therefore, an undiminished flow of 26,000 vehicles moves around the southeast and south of the Basin. Of these vehicles, 8,000 exit the Basin heading south on Adelaide Road; 14,000 vehicles join the flow from that same road. The largest traffic flows, comprising 32,000 vehicles, travel around the southwest and western sides of the Basin Reserve (Sussex Street). Of these, 22,000 exit onto Buckle Street on the northwest corner and 10,000 travel to the northern exit at Cambridge Terrace.

    Congestion and varying travel times can make time-critical journeys to work or school difficult, and the movement of freight can also be affected. While there are a number of projects in the works to address some of the issues individually, it is important to get this entire stretch of road working well.

    Without intervention, congestion and journey times along the route are predicted to increase by up to 75% by 2021. 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 T2T improvements in place, the same trip will only take 10 minutes.

    The T2T brings together three key pieces of work: the Basin Bridge, the Improvements to the existing Inner-city Bypass and the National War Memorial Park and Underpass. By integrating the three separate T2T projects into one, the NZTA can ensure that the highest level of benefit is gained from the significant investment being made.

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  • Key benefits of T2T
    • Relieves current congestion problems, improve journey times and improve safety and trip reliability on SH1 between the Mt Victoria and Terrace Tunnels

    • Improved journey times and trip reliability for local road traffic, including public transport, between Kent and Cambridge Terraces and Adelaide Road

    • Reduced traffic flows on scenic local roads like Oriental Parade

    • More reliable emergency service access to and from Wellington Hospital

    • Supports regional economic growth and productivity by moving people and freight efficiently and improving access to Wellington’s CBD, employment centres and airport

    • Improved pedestrian and cycle safety around the Basin Reserve

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

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

    • Safer for all travel modes across the T2T area (walking, cycling, and vehicular)

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  • What will happen?

    The following are some key dates for the T2T package. 

    ActivityDates
    National War Memorial Park and Underpass
    Begin work on temporary road October 2012
    Underpass construction begins Early 2013
    Underpass complete Late 2014
    Begin Park construction and landscaping Late 2014
    Park completed and Anzac Day Centenary April 2015
    Basin Bridge
    Announcement of preferred option August 2012
    Community engagement sessions November 2012
    Regulatory consents process 2013
    Bridge construction begins Mid to late 2014
    Works complete Mid to late 2016
    Improvements to existing Inner City Bypass 2013 - 16
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  • The Basin Bridge

    When the NZTA began looking at options for the Basin many years ago, the challenge was to develop a workable, cost-effective solution. It needed to separate north-south traffic from east-west traffic, while still catering for all types of transport. A tunnel under the Basin was considered, but given its much higher cost and the complexities of putting a tunnel through an old swamp, this idea was rejected.  Since that time, further geotechnical investigations have shown potentially liquefiable soils and suggested that ground water was at a higher level than we previously thought, so tunnelling is now seen as less feasible than ever.

    We also considered street-level options. However, while they were cheaper than a bridge they provided 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, particularly buses and other forms of public transport.  The solution also had to be about choosing an enduring solution, not just a quick fix. Moreover, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Wellington City Council and the NZTA all agreed to separate the traffic in this area in the 2008 Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan(external link).

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  • Putting Buckle Street underground to build NZ Memorial Park

    On 7 August, government announced a project to put the Buckle Street section of SH1 underground (between Tory and Taranaki Streets) to create a new, unified memorial precinct at the New Zealand War Memorial(external link).

    The NZTA will put the road into a trench and then roof it over with an overhead support system. The Park will be built on top, and the road safely integrated back into the surrounding road network.

    Plans for improvements around the Basin Reserve always included some work at Buckle Street, and both bridge options presented in the 2011 community engagement programme were designed to fully integrate with any proposal to underground Buckle Street at the National War Memorial Park, should funding become available to do so. Bringing the Basin work, Buckle Street Underpass and improvements to the existing Inner City Bypass together into one T2T package means we can realise construction efficiencies that wouldn’t have been possible if the three projects had been done separately.

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  • Improvements to the existing Inner-city Bypass

    The Inner City Bypass can also experience significant congestion due to competing demands. The network, including Vivian, Karo and Arthur Streets can all become gridlocked at peak times. In the PM peak when many motorists also wish to access Aro Street and Brooklyn Road, congestion extends to include the southern sections of Victoria and Webb Streets.

    To make sure we get the most benefit possible from the Basin Bridge(external link), the NZTA will undertake a range of improvements to the Bypass, including new phasing of signals, intersection enhancements and additional capacity for turning.  This work will occur as part of the wider package of T2T projects and should be completed by 2016.

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Frequently asked questions

Below are answers to many of the questions we're being asked about the Tunnel to Tunnel Improvements ('T2T'). We will update these as the project progresses.

  • What are the Tunnel to Tunnel (T2T) improvements?

    Right now, Wellington experiences significant congestion, delays and variable travel times on the roading network between the Terrace Tunnel to the north and the Mt Victoria Tunnel to the south. If we don’t do something now, things will get much worse. Individual projects to address these issues have been in the works for several years, however the Transport Agency now has the opportunity to bring all this work under one umbrella: the Tunnel to Tunnel improvement project (or "T2T").

    T2T combines the Basin Bridge, National War Memorial Park and Underpass and upgrades to the existingInner City Bypass into one package that will get Wellington’s transport network moving.

    T2T does not include the duplication of the Mt Victoria Tunnel. This project is being progressed separately.

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  • What’s the timeframe for the T2T project?

    The following are some key dates for the T2T project.

    ActivityDates
    National War Memorial Park and Underpass
    Begin work on temporary road October 2012
    Underpass construction begins Early 2013
    Underpass complete Late 2014
    Begin Memorial Park construction and landscaping Late 2014
    Anzac Day Centenary April 2015
    Basin Bridge
    Announcement on preferred option August 2012
    Public information days October 2012
    Regulatory consents process 2013
    Bridge construction begins Mid 2014
    Works complete Mid to late 2016
    Improvements to existing Inner City Bypass 2013 - 16

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  • Why do we need the T2T improvements?

    The need for improvements to Wellington’s inner city transport network has long being recognised. Traffic using the Wellington State Highway 1 route has a predicted increase of up to 19% between now and 2026. Without intervention, congestion and journey times along this route are predicted to increase by up to 75% by 2021.

    That means that if we don’t take the right steps to sort this out now, the time it takes to drive from Cobham Drive to Taranaki Street will almost double by 2021.

    A number of investigations into improvements around the Basin Reserve have been undertaken at various times, and the construction of the Inner City Bypass in 2007 was the first major step in addressing some of the city’s transport issues.

    In 2008, Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC), Wellington City Council (WCC) and the NZTA all agreed to the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan(external link), which was informed by the Ngauranga to Airport Strategy Study(external link)  and forms part of the Wellington Regional Land Transport Strategy 2010-40(external link).

    The Plan aims to strengthen the four key transport elements within the City, which are:

    • A high quality and frequency passenger transport ‘spine’

    • Highly accessible and attractive ‘activity’ or shopping streets

    • A reliable and accessible ‘ring’ or bypass route for vehicles, and

    • Interconnected and convenient local street, walking, cycling and passenger transport networks.

    T2T is also part of the Wellington Northern Corridor portion of the Roads of National Significance, and it will be the first part of the Ngaraunga to Airport projects to be completed.  This will help ease SH1 traffic and help achieve WCC, GWRC and NZTA’s plans for a high-quality public transport spine.

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  • What would happen if we didn’t build the T2T improvements?

    Wellington’s inner city transport network has long been saddled with issues such as congestion and variable journey times.  These all impact on private vehicles, public transport and movement of freight.  Moreover, congestion on the network has led to a spill-over of traffic onto more scenic suburban roads such as Oriental/Evans Bay Parades.

    Without intervention, things are only going to get worse.  Traffic using the Wellington State Highway 1 route has a predicted increase of up to 19% between now and 2026. Other research has shown a 75% increase in congestion and journey times along this route by 2021. If we don’t take the right steps to sort this out now, then by 2021 it will take about 16 minutes to drive from Cobham Drive to Taranaki Street. With the T2T improvements in place, the same trip will only take 10 minutes. 

    Multiply that by the thousands of buses, cars and trucks that use this route each day and Wellington will realise a huge savings in travel time and petrol use.

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  • Will traffic continue to increase along this route?

    As at the 2006 census, Wellington city had a population of about 180,000 – an increase of nearly 14% in the 10 years since the 1996 census.

    The city’s vibrancy and diversity mean it’s likely to grow more quickly than many other parts of the Wellington region and New Zealand. More people and more employment will increase the number of journeys people make and change travel patterns in the city, especially in areas that are growing or expected to grow.

    Research indicates that traffic using the Wellington State Highway 1 route will increase by up to 19% between now and 2026. The Wellington City Council District Plan and other planning documents allow for significant further development in the eastern and southern suburbs.

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  • How do the T2T improvements benefit pedestrians and cyclists?

    Wellingtonians walk and cycle more than people in any other main centre, so the NZTA recognises how important it is to provide for all transport choices.

    Overwhelming feedback from the community has led to plans for a shared pedestrian/cycle facility on the north side of the Basin Bridge. By separating different transport users and reducing the amount of traffic at ground level, the bridge will make walking and cycling in the area a lot more safe, efficient and convenient.

    This is a great way to encourage walking and cycling around our city.  It also means that we’ll have different kinds of transport on the bridge to remind drivers they are in an urban environment (not a motorway).

    The shared path on the Bridge is a key part of our plans to improve walking and cycling from Cobham Drive in Rongotai all the way to Karo Drive downtown.

    Putting the SH1 westbound traffic onto the Bridge will also reduce the amount of traffic at ground level, making it much safer for pedestrians and cyclists to get around.

    We are also making other improvements at ground level, including moving the signalised crossings currently at Kent and Cambridge Terraces closer to Ellice Street. Both pedestrians and cyclists will cross here, as it is the safest place to cross underneath the bridge.

    We’re designing a new entry to the Basin Reserve from Kent and Cambridge Terraces, with better walking and cycling options. This will feature a raised platform with a one-way “shared space” street at the Basin Reserve gates, where pedestrians will have priority over vehicles.  The paved area will be raised, with signs telling motorists to give way to pedestrians, and low-level planting will separate the plaza from the roads.

    The new underpass at Buckle Street will also create a much safer environment for the pedestrians who currently cross the Buckle Street at grade (particularly the school children of Mt Cook School).  Plus, all the new green space will make walking and cycling to work easier for the city’s residents. 

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  • How do the T2T improvements benefit public transport?

    The need for SH1 improvements was identified in the 2008 Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan(external link) and agreed by NZTA, WCC and GWRC. T2T is a key part of that plan.

    After considering “roads only” and “public transport only” options, we decided to build an “integrated multi-modal package”. This is a combination of building roads, improving our public transport system and developing our walking and cycling network.

    The Corridor Plan has some very clear goals related to public transport:

    • Create a transport network where vehicular traffic has priority on some roads, and public transport, walking and cycling have priority on others

    • To make SH1 more attractive to drivers currently using roads that are more suited to other uses, such as public transport and cycling

    • To provide Wellington with a more efficient transport system – for general vehicles and for public transport, pedestrians and cyclists.

    T2T meets these goals. Separating north-south from east-west traffic at the Basin Bridge will unblock existing issues for public transport and help to future-proof a public transport spine priority corridor by relieving demand on the constrained road space around the Basin Reserve.  When combined with the planned upgrades to theInner City Bypass, the T2T package will ease journey times and reduce the impact of State Highway 1 on local traffic around the Eastern CBD by freeing up crunch points.  This will have a flow-on effect that will help enable the Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council to build a better public transport system.

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  • How do the T2T improvements benefit private vehicles and freight movement?

    T2T will make travelling between the Mt Victoria and Terrace Tunnels better for everyone, and this includes private vehicles and freight.  The Basin Bridge will lift state highway traffic out of the way of other traffic, and upgrading the Inner City Bypass will help address ongoing issues of gridlock at peak times.  By bringing these components together, the T2T will ensure that we maximise the benefit of all the improvements, with time, petrol and money saved for everyone using this route. 

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  • How do the T2T improvements benefit Wellington?

    The T2T has been designed to have a cumulative flow-on effect that will benefit everyone using this route:  public transport users, pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and freight haulage. By helping to free up intersections from the heavy demands of highway traffic, T2T will improve economic productivity by making it easier to for everyone to get around, however they choose to travel. 

    Putting Buckle Street underground will give Wellingtonians new green space in the city, making walking and cycling to work easier.  It will also improve the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and schoolchildren who currently cross Buckle Street at grade.

    T2T is also part of the Wellington Northern Corridor portion of the Roads of National Significance (RoNS). The RoNS have been designed to allow people and freight to move more safely and efficiently on our roads, as well as helping create a more reliable and resilient transport network for our city.

    The RoNS programme will provide traffic benefits, travel time savings, crash reductions and vehicle operating cost savings. There are also wider economic benefits including the reduction of business costs resulting in increased productivity and positive changes to the labour market.

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  • How much time will these improvements save people?

    Without intervention, congestion and journey times along this route are predicted to increase by up to 75% by 2021. 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 drive from Cobham Drive to Taranaki Street.  With the T2T improvements in place, the same trip will only take 9 to 10 minutes.

    The T2T will also result in improved passenger transport and local road journey times and reliability across the network. For example, the Basin Bridge will result in 1 to 2 minute journey time savings for buses travelling between Kent Tce and Adelaide Road, more reliable emergency service access to the hospital, and a reduction of general traffic on local roads, such as Evans Bay and Oriental Bay Parades.

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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 are working closely with the Basin Reserve Trust to protect its heritage status, mitigate any potential effects the bridge may have on it as a sporting venue, and ensure people can continue enjoying it into the future.

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  • What will happen to the former Home of Compassion Crèche?

    The NZTA values the Former Home of Compassion Crèche’s status as a Category 1 Historic Building. Public feedback has also reinforced the importance of the Crèche to our city. However, the Crèche lies directly under the SH1 alignment for the new bridge and new underpass (undergrounding of Buckle Street) and accordingly the building must be moved. The National War Memorial Park (Pukeahu) Act grants consent for this relocation to occur.

    The consent requires the NZTA to work closely with the NZ Historic Places Trust and Wellington City Council to make sure we find a new location as close as possible to its current location and use for the Crèche consistent with its heritage value. We currently favour shifting it northwards by about 10 metres and west by about 5 metres from its current location.

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  • How does T2T impact nearby historical places and archaeology?

    We want to ensure that we design T2T to respect the heritage and sensitivity of the surrounding environment. A big part of our job will be working with the community, urban designers, Historic Places Trust and councils. Together we're developing a plan to manage the impacts on heritage buildings and sites. Each building and site could have its own unique solution.

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  • How will these proposals affect the safety of school students and people attending events at the Basin?

    A bridge separating through traffic will make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists to get around by reducing street-level traffic, while enabling the NZTA to put in place improved drop-off, walking and cycling facilities and a new pedestrian plaza. Separating traffic with a new bridge north of the Basin Reserve will make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists to get around by reducing the amount of traffic around the Basin at ground level. This will particularly make it safer and easier when events are held at the Basin, as well as for the large numbers of school students who attend schools in the area.

    We are also proposing a larger, safer bus stop and drop off point outside St Marks School, wider footpaths with seats and trees, safer crossings, a shared pedestrian and cycle way from Kent terrace to Mt Victoria Tunnel, and a pedestrian plaza on the Northern entrance to the Basin.

    Putting Buckle Street underground will also create a much safer environment for the pedestrians who currently cross the Buckle Street at grade (particularly the schoolchildren of Mt Cook School). Plus, the new Memorial Park will offer new green space just outside the school.

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  • What upgrades will you make to the existing Inner City Bypass?

    To make sure we get the most benefit possible from the Basin Bridge, we’ll be undertaking a range of upgrades along the Bypass, including new phasing of signals, intersection enhancements and additional capacity for turning. We may consider operational measures like peak hour clearways along Vivian Street.

    All of this work will occur as part of the T2T project and should be completed by 2016.

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