WellUrban

Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A third way


At midday today, a group "made up of tradespeople and an environmental scientist" will launch "Option Three", an alternative to the current debate between proponents of Transmission Gully and the Coastal Highway. I've written plenty before about Transmission Gully and other proposed solutions to Wellington's "northern corridor" transport issues, and while Option Three is being described as a "late entry" into the debate, from the sounds of things it will follow the same principles that are behind the solutions that the Greens and Brent Efford have been promoting for a long time.

In other words, it's likely to suggest minor safety improvements to the existing route while improving public transport and discouraging urban sprawl. In a sense, it should be called "Option Two", since the discussion has otherwise been limited to one basic "solution": fighting congestion by increasing capacity (which, as has been said many times before, is like fighting obesity by buying bigger trousers). The bitter debate between Transmission Gully and Coastal Highway supporters has just been about which bit of the land we should fuck up and how much it will cost.

Expect derision from the usual quarters, decrying Option Three as "unrealistic". That's because it's not a silver bullet that will allow people to keep on sprawling forever across the Kapiti Coast and driving their SUVs into town on a shiny new motorway. It might actually force us to question how we live and make decisions based upon a longer timeframe than the duration of the evening commute.

7 Comments:

At 10:55 AM, February 21, 2006, Blogger bush whacker said...

I'm looking forward to it. Transmission Gully is just such a ludicrous scheme i can't believe anyone every took it seriously - steeper than Ngauranga Gorge, 3 times as high and many times longer, most cars and all trucks would just pass out from exhaustion before they got to the top, and that's without a $1billion price tag.

Me? I'll let the train take the strain, although i'm hacked off that they have stopped the train to Hawkes Bay, and would welcome that back !

 
At 3:05 PM, February 21, 2006, Anonymous DEATH said...

Speaking of trains, I was planning to take the famous Kaimai Express from Auckland to Tauranga before Christmas and it turns out it no longer exists. I cry.

 
At 3:15 PM, February 22, 2006, Anonymous Rodger said...

If we wanted to posit spending absurd amounts of money on unrealist projects, may I suggest my two pets, a Wellington Harbour Bridge from the Mirimar Peninsula to the southern spur of the Eastbourne coast, and a TGV-style link between the Wellington and Auckland CBDs.

 
At 5:03 PM, February 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i believe there was a politician who was seriously proposing a "cross channel tunnel, like the one under the English channel" until it was pointed out to him that:
a - the English Channel is flat,low, and chalk...
b - 20km wide, not 40...
c - Cook Straight is incredibly deep and harsh rocks
d - there is a large earthquake rift through the middle, comprising the plates of two continental masses...
e - the Chunnel nearly bankrupted both countries, let alone the company building the Chunnel...

i don't think he has mentioned the idea again...

 
At 5:05 PM, February 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, has Option 3 actually surfaced anywhere? What is it?

 
At 6:01 PM, February 23, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

There was not much detail visible in the media: just a few paragraphs in the Dom yesterday, compared to the front page hysteria generated by the Transit shortfall. There's no sign of an official detailed proposal, just a few news stories responding to the launch, and the only real detail other than "trains not cars" is double-tracking from Pukerua Bay to Paekakariki and Raumati to Lindale. Perhaps they need a website :-)

The regional council has "welcomed" the proposal, but in their response, they've pretty much just said "we're already improving rail". Then they say "These projects will involve considerable capital, and cooperation by the Government in funding, particularly the double tracking of the lines. [we know that] This is necessary, however, to provide acceptable reliability for a more frequent peak service [we agree]". So, it still comes down to where central govt is going to spend its moolah.

 
At 12:03 AM, March 07, 2006, Blogger libertyscott said...

The rail upgrade that is already proposed should be allowed to proceed first - the risk of a major rail upgrade is that you continue to encourage sprawl out to the coast - people will still own cars out there and use them because you cannot get around Kapiti too much easily or safely without one.

The truth is that neither the grand rail option, nor Transmission Gully nor 4-laning north of Pukerua Bay are economically efficient projects - people living in Kapiti are not willing to pay the full cost of dramatically improving transport to Wellington - so there should be no government subsidisation of rail OR road along the route - but rather efficient smaller scale upgrades.

 

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