In a surprise decision, Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast today announced that the inner-city bypass will be scrapped. "We had faith in roads to solve all life's problems, but it hasn't turned out like that at all. It seems that while east-west commuters are saving a few minutes, north-south commuters have had to pay for it with increased delays, and overall, the project hasn't been worth all the money and hassle."
The council and Transit NZ are now working to repair the damage. State Highway 1 traffic will return to the old route, but with a small toll. "We saw from the last few year's figures that commuters will switch to public transport when petrol prices are high, and that the only way to reduce congestion in the city is to make public transport more attractive than private cars," said a Transit spokesperson. "The toll will help fund a 50% reduction in bus and train fares, effective immediately." Karo Drive will be replaced by narrow streets with pedestrian priority, flanked by mid-rise medium-density housing, workplaces, shops and Tiki bars. At least half of the development will be affordable housing, and every new building will be built to the highest ecological and energy efficiency standards, including small-scale wind turbines, solar power and green roofs. Transit are actively seeking out the former inhabitants of upper Te Aro to offer them free rent for the next five years, in atonement for the disruption that they have faced.
The final stage will be to put into place a long-term vision for sustainable Wellington transport, including light rail to the airport, powered by a small new wind farm on Mt Kaukau. "We can't keep talking about sustainability and carbon neutrality without doing something bold about it," said Ms Prendergast, while enjoying a cup of freshly-roasted coffee at Havana with her husband. "People will look back to the first of April 2007 as a great day in Wellington's history."