17 August 2012
NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has announced that a bridge will be built across New Zealand’s biggest and busiest roundabout.
The bridge at Basin Reserve is designed to untangle traffic congestion and free up space for public transport, pedestrians, and cyclists to get around more easily. The bridge will lift state highway traffic out of the way of buses and other local traffic. It will also include a dedicated pedestrian and cycle lane.
NZTA Wellington state highways manager Rod James says the NZTA has made its decision as part of a package of proposed improvements to State Highway 1.
NZTA had investigated calls to put the state highway into a tunnel but studies had shown this would be impractical, disruptive and expensive due to the swampy ground conditions and difficult topography.
“The Basin Reserve is the country’s biggest and busiest signalised roundabout,” said James. “We need to untangle the mess around the Basin, and doing nothing is not an option. Squeezing large volumes of state highway traffic through this constrained road layout is clogging up the whole system.” There are delays to buses and traffic heading between the central business district, the eastern and southern suburbs and the airport.
James said that NZTA recognises that the option chosen won’t please everyone. “We know that there are some concerns about the effects of a bridge, and urban design will be absolutely paramount as we progress design. A big part of our job will be working with affected parties, urban designers, the Historic Places Trust and the councils to ensure that we design this project to respect the heritage and sensitivity of the surrounding environment.”
NZTA is starting to finalise its design for the bridge. Once the designs were finalised, the public will have the opportunity to give formal feedback through the Resource Management Act process, which is expected to start in early 2013.
Construction on the bridge is expected to begin in mid to late 2014 and be completed by mid to late 2016.