Monday, February 16, 2009

Wellington's transport priorities for the year ahead

Given that some blogs show a particular interest in this at times, I thought I should give a bit of parochial opinion.

I'll give the Wellington councils their due, the priorities are sensible and well thought out.

The Kapiti Western Link Road (pdf) quite correctly the top priority, as congestion, access and safety issues between Raumati, Paraparaumu and Waikanae are the most serious in the region. What's sad is that the Kapiti Coast District Council remains incompetently divided on this issue - which demonstrates how roads should be run commercially.

There is some agitation that a flyover at the Basin Reserve is number two. The Greens, and anti- road transport lobby have made it their campaign to oppose it, on the spurious grounds that it will damage the Basin, when for over 30 years a similar project has been long planned. The Standard has shown its sense of balance by only quoting information from an anti-flyover site, without giving any proposals to ease congestion at this bottleneck, or reduce traffic on what is the main highway between Wellington airport and the Wellington region (maybe Auckland should have a two lane highway from it's airport?).

The flyover would remove a third of the traffic from the Basin Reserve, making it far easier for pedestrians, cyclists and buses to get round. It would remove that traffic from crossings that service three schools. It would enable traffic lights to be removed from the Basin reducing queues that hold up traffic, including buses, from the south. Ignore the ugly artist impressions given by the anti-campaign, let's wait till the NZ Transport Agency gives something credible.

Advancing the rail network upgrade requires more thinking, it is a little odd that a system that claims such strains on capacity needs so much subsidy, when increasing fares at peak times would address this and pay for equipment replacement. Nevertheless, maintaining rail in Wellington is far more useful than any rail in Auckland.

SH2 Melling Interchange and bridge is an excellent project. The number of traffic lights on the Western Hutt Road is ridiculous on a four-lane highway. Once the Dowse Drive upgrade is complete, it will be clear what priority this project should have against other improvements on SH2.

Paraparaumu and Waikanae station upgrades, given the electrification to Waikanae is difficult to argue against, but again the network should be financially self sustaining.

All in all, fairly modest aspirations. Transmission Gully isn't there because it is still at design stage and there is insufficient money to build it. Hopefully Wellington local authorities retain pragmatic modest ambitions in building roads and improving public transport.

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