WellUrban

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

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tunnel vision


The long-delayed Ngauranga to Airport Transport Study has finally come back with some options for public consultation. It'll take a while for me to crunch through the many megabytes of reports, brochures and forms, but for the meantime I'll just point you to the Dominion Post's barely restrained glee at the prospect of more roads and tunnels, and frogblog's reasonably measured response.

Submissions are due on the 22nd of February. It's good to get some time to mull over the reports, though it means that people's submissions on the Adelaide Rd consultation will have to be in well before they've been able to think through the transport study, which is disappointing considering how closely the two are linked.

32 Comments:

At 2:45 PM, December 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gah Kerry wants a legacy! The bypass hasn't cleared the traffic so the answer must be more roads... sigh.

The Terrace tunnel seems to move fairly well these days IMHO. The pinch points there seem to be caused by the multiple sets of traffic lights on the bypass route, and then only at peak. These would have been eliminated by using a proper underground tunnel for the bypass instead of the cheap'n'nasty compromise we got.

The Mt Vic tunnel is a hopeless choke point, but I don't see how it will be improved unless you eliminate the basin reserve and have the new roads somehow feeding directly into the bypass. Even then it will hit the multiple sets of traffic lights immediately.

Not to mention that Mt Vic was a hell hole in the 1960s and 70s, and now it's des res! There will be a heck of a fight if the council wants to bulldoze half of that suburb for a new bypass.

Not sure about light rail- It would be nice (and the french manage to build them cheaply) but faster trolleybuses, on better cables, and an integrated ticket with rail would be a real improvement.

 
At 3:33 PM, December 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the current desired plan for the basin reserve would have traffic between the bypass and the tunnel routed on a grade seperation round the Northern Side (Both Directions of Traffic), with the existing local traffic from the Terraces to Adelaide Rd passing underneath it.

This design was catered for in the recent new church by the tunnel.

Also I guess the easiest place for the tunnel to is just to the south of the exisiting one, ( they would have to pacify wgtn coll, and east girls), but it is only tennis courts they are going to lose, as opposed to a very messy fight with heaps of Mt Vic residents if they tried to go anywhere north of the current tunnel.

 
At 3:48 PM, December 06, 2007, Blogger Rich said...

Firstly, I can't see that doing anything is very urgent. It takes 15 minutes to drive from downtown to the airport most of the time, 30 on a bad day.

I'd have thought a cheap option would be to extend the trolley lines the few hundred metres into the airport and run an express bus service. Maybe have some sort of innovative payment system like making the service free to users and charging the airlines an additional landing charge.

Long term, I guess that the Lyall Bay area, along with Newtown are amongst the few places where Wellington can achieve high density growth. The hill suburbs aren't suitable for geological and conservation grounds, I wouldn't think. So having a fast link (5 minutes would be achievable) between the CBD and a second CBD in Lyall Bay would be good. But that's maybe 20 years away.

If I might be radical, I'd suggest that we should aim for a low traffic city past the railway station. Put some park and ride over the railway tracks, close the motorway and run light rail through the terrace tunnel and charge anyone wanting to drive into the CBD $$ for the privilege.

 
At 3:57 PM, December 06, 2007, Blogger llew said...

"‘I think there are some [things] we have to do,’ she told The Dominion Post.

…Ms Prendergast said a new Mt Victoria tunnel should be a high priority, regardless of what submitters to the study say."

I love the way Rex lectured us on democracy & the bypass the other day...

 
At 4:52 PM, December 06, 2007, Blogger Seamonkey Madness said...

Tom and others,

Don't know if you were aware of this, but land on the corner of Kent Tce (by Bogarts Pizza) and properties along the Paterson St have public land notices on them (Better Utilization Gazettes). In other words, Government can run a bulldozer through it if it bloody well wants really (to put it bluntly).

 
At 5:23 PM, December 06, 2007, Anonymous m-d said...

I was under the impression that the white elephant that is Transmission Gully was going to suck up roading expenditure for the next couple of decades?? Wilde seems wild about pushing it through too...

 
At 5:55 PM, December 06, 2007, Anonymous deepred said...

Ah yes... that hoary old chestnut called Eminent Domain.

DeepRed @ Photobucket

 
At 6:14 PM, December 06, 2007, Anonymous maximus said...

in the paper a year or so ago, there was an article about the people in Mt Vic who have a tunnel entrance in their back yard, behind the toolshed or some such.... apparently the tunnel was started, and didn't get far, and if i remeber correctly, its the wrong size anyway.

Certainly it wouldn't take very long to bore a new tunnel through - certainly in less time than it would take to get the paperwork in place to support it. Modern TBMs can bore several metres a day in good conditions (Wellington's rotten rock is hard, but fractures easily), and yes, there is a zone for a flyover at the Basin (designed by a traffic engineer of course, so it looks crap); but the question still needs to be asked: what then?

Move the clogging point from Te Aro to Kilbirnie? If the council could demolish the houses in that little stretch of road before the Evans Bay Expressway, then it'd work out ok. Otherwise - if you leave them there - what's the point?

 
At 10:39 PM, December 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about building light rail from the Aotea quay motorway exit to the airport? Have a large park n ride, plus redevelopment in the thorndon quay area with additional housing, groceries, etc to make the strip an actual livable neighborhood, then start congestion pricing at three locations - after aotea exit, after the terrace exit and at Mt. Vic tunnel.

the opportunity to park at aotea quay and save on congestion pricing, plus take light rail right to the terminal would be better than driving through town, and paying for parking at a premium rate at the airport.

Plus the light rail and development at key locations such as thorndon quay, the basin, and kilbirnie would help improve the density and fabric of the city, where as more roads will just destroy what is already at a fragile state.

 
At 12:39 AM, December 07, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the terrace tunnel should be duplicated, so they can remove lanes from the waterfront and make it more pedestrian friendly. If you look at the traffic volumes from transits website throughout the highway network traffic in both directions is about equal, except for the terrace tunnel. Southbound traffic is half that of northbound. This means in the morning more cars are exiting the motorway and driving along the waterfront, while in the evening they all go through the tunnel. Tunnel duplication will allow for all those cars to go the whole length along the motorway rather than along the waterfront. You could turn the waterfront into a nice tree lined boulevard and make waterfront access way easier.

 
At 9:08 AM, December 07, 2007, Blogger Seamonkey Madness said...

PS: Tom, one of your tags is 'transort'.

 
At 11:40 AM, December 07, 2007, Anonymous Andy said...

"I think that the terrace tunnel should be duplicated, so they can remove lanes from the waterfront and make it more pedestrian friendly."

Anon - sounds like a great idea but I dont trust them to actually do that. If we could get a rock solid guarantee that by making another tunnel, they would remove lanes from the waterfront, then great.

Problem is, they said that about the Bypass. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice..

 
At 12:06 PM, December 07, 2007, Blogger Seamonkey Madness said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKgPY1adc0A

 
At 1:41 PM, December 07, 2007, Blogger Erentz said...

Ah, cool so its finally out. I read some article the other day where Kerry P. was saying a likely budget of around $650 would be reasonable to expect. That gives a lot of good options if spent wisely.

Will have to read it all tomorrow.

 
At 9:06 PM, December 07, 2007, Blogger paynter said...

Getting rid of traffic on Jervious Quay may not be as simple as you think.

Since I have acquired a car, I have discovered one problem with the bypass is that once you get through the tunnel, there's one motorway exit onto the very narrowest part of Tinakori Road, and after that there's no getting off again before Johnsonville. There is a similar lack of southbound entrances.

So if you live in Crofton, Ngaio, Khandallah, Kaiwharawhara, etc then you often have to drive down the waterfront and through the CBD in order to get to the bypass. (And this area is part of the proposed growth spine.)

Luckily, we have a nearby train, so I don't have to do that very often.

Gordon

 
At 11:58 PM, December 07, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paynter, it's a shame the Govt didn't build the Ngaio Gorge Road/Motorway interchange. But then again, you should really just take the train. If only it would take you somewhere useful like the Airport or Courtenay Place or the Hospital without changing modes (and apparently never will... ahh, the joy of democracy...).

 
At 12:09 PM, December 09, 2007, Anonymous Bevan said...

@rich:
Extending the trolley buses to the airport won't be any different to the current Flyer bus.
The advantage of light rail is that it has right-of-way over other types of transport, making for a quicker journey.

Any public transport option needs to be just as quick as driving, and with the amount of traffic lights on the way, light rail will be.

 
At 4:10 PM, December 09, 2007, Blogger poneke said...

I quite support the need for a parallel tunnel through Mt Vic, plus grade separation from the Basin Reserve gyratory of traffic to and from it.

In addition I strongly support light rail on the Johnsonville - Adelaide Rd - Airport spine.

And Transmission Gully.

I believe we need all three, and should not fall into Kerry's myopic trap that we can only afford one.

We can't afford not to have all three.

 
At 4:24 PM, December 09, 2007, Blogger Rich said...

Why not upgrade the airport to take 747's while you're at at? And build a Cook Strait tunnel?

 
At 4:57 PM, December 09, 2007, Blogger poneke said...

I'd have thought a cheap option would be to extend the trolley lines the few hundred metres into the airport and run an express bus service.

Well there is already an express bus service, it is called the Flyer.

Extending the trolley wires, while easy to do, would not an express service create, because trolley buses cannot easily pass each other.

Though the new ones, due to enter service tomorrow, have battery power and could pass one in front by downing poles and driving around it to run express, it would be a disjointed service indeed having to depole and repole along the way.

 
At 5:00 PM, December 09, 2007, Blogger poneke said...

Why not upgrade the airport to take 747's while you're at at?

Air services now are being based increasingly on fequency over capacity, so the need for a runway extension sufficient to take 747s has faded.

The existing runway can take 767s and the new 787, plus any number of other planes of a similar size.

 
At 12:54 AM, December 10, 2007, Anonymous Kevyn Miller said...

I believe we need all three, and should not fall into Kerry's myopic trap that we can only afford one.
Until you repay the $650 million that you borrowed from the rest of the country to build the foothills m'way thus far you are in no position to pay for any land transport investments.

$650 million being the difference between what Wellingtonians have paid into the road fund and how much has been spent on your roads (and increasingly public transport)

http://www.petroltax.org.nz/XLS/Rev-Exp-08.xls

 
At 9:28 AM, December 10, 2007, Anonymous maximus said...

I've just managed to struggle my way through the 200+ pages of the Ngauranga to Airport Study, and have to say: Opus have done a good job. Reasonably thorough. Nearly everything addressed, albiet just a cursory description at this stage - ie they have considered car, bus, taxi, trolley, light rail, bicycle, foot, etc. (not, however, motorbike or scooter).

But the big surprising thing to me, and the bit that i can't quite understand, is that in their Transport Modelling of options, they say that if Light Rail was taken all the way to the airport, then the amount of people using it would be almost zero. I think their figure was 10 per hour.

Umm, to me, that indicates that the Modelling software has screwed up! How come that for buses, lots of people would take them (although not that many do) and for light rail, almost no-one would (but in likelihood, many would)?

Opus, are you out there reading? Want to answer how you get to this one?

 
At 10:15 AM, December 10, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

I've only just started to delve through the report myself, but I think that what I feared has turned out to be true: it relies heavily on a model that is outdated, simple-minded and so flawed as to be virtually useless.

In the "only 10 people per hour" case, I think they state somewhere that their model doesn't take taxis into account, so that number is derived almost entirely from people switching from the bus! The model also assumes that population is distributed evenly rather than along the spine, and while they acknowledge and correct for this in one place, I don't know whether the corrected figures are what they use in the final comparisons (I need to read further). Perhaps most damningly, while I can't find any explicit statement here of the model's assumptions, I've read elsewhere that the model assumes that petrol prices will stay broadly the same forever!

 
At 10:19 AM, December 10, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"The model also assumes that population is distributed evenly"

Erm, I mean "population growth", of course.

 
At 7:49 PM, December 10, 2007, Blogger Erentz said...

"There will be a heck of a fight if the council wants to bulldoze half of that suburb for a new bypass."

"Also I guess the easiest place for the tunnel to is just to the south of the exisiting one"

Yes! My thoughts exactly. I hope this is considered rather than the old plan. Transit could use the massive appreciation in value of the Mt Vic properties they own to buy the land from the schools. (Wellington College has a ridiculous amount of poorly used land for any school let alone an inner city school!)

paynter, "one problem with the bypass is that once you get through the tunnel, there's one motorway exit onto the very narrowest part of Tinakori Road, and after that there's no getting off again before Johnsonville. There is a similar lack of southbound entrances."

Myself, I've always envisioned that when the whole Pipitea railyards are redeveloped (if planning were good, which it isn't, it's non-existant), on/off ramps would be built from the Tinakori gully down to the new area, and at the north side they'd be somewhat reconfigured, allowing the motorway to feed people from the south of the city to the Pipitea area, and ditto from the north. This would have the side effect of connecting the motorway to Hutt Road solving your particular problem. (Quick diagram of what I mean here.)

tom, "The model also assumes that population [growth] is distributed evenly...I've read elsewhere that the model assumes that petrol prices will stay broadly the same forever!"

*slaps forhead* Surely these guys are engineers and are smarter than that?

Your summary "it relies heavily on a model that is outdated, simple-minded and so flawed as to be virtually useless." is about all that can be said after my initial skim read. Can we ask Opus for our money back? Let's watch as it gets used to justify a myopic road building exercise.

I shall have to consider my submission to this one carefully...

 
At 8:10 PM, December 10, 2007, Blogger Erentz said...

Actually, is there any interest from Tom's readers (inclusive of Tom) in getting organised in some way to lobby for a particular outcome with this plan?

I know Option-3 didn't really succeed with the Western Corridor, but I think Wellington City-ans are generally a brighter bunch of people when it comes to this stuff and more receptive.

Also Option-3 started quite late in the debate. Fortunately the debate for transport through Wellington isn't new, and there's some good history to work from (e.g. previous work on LRT promotion, Brent Efford, et al.) But it would be important to start soon, before opinions got too heavily formed, and Councillers started promoting one idea over another (which naturally they then can't flip-flop on).

In my case I'd like to see a group at least push for a well developed plan for the LRT route, with the necessary reserves (and such) put in place, so that in the future the route will be there and available. E.g. if roads needed to be widened over time, and so forth. And if some street is being upgraded, incorporate it in the design.

I'm flexible on the actual construction schedule. E.g. whether the group would go as far as promoting LRT be built first as part of the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor (before any new motorways/tunnels), or maybe to Newtown first, then some roading, then extend to airport/etc. (Although my personal preference is LRT first for a number of reasons.)

I'd rather a group that was moderate on the roading topic, i.e. either felt roads were an important part of any balanced transport network, (but may disagree on the configuration), or were at least not openly hostile to roads. Because I think it does any cause a disservice when groups get extremist.

There seems to be a lot of smart readers on here with a diverse skillset, and look at the outcome from the ABC competition, so I'd imagine some pretty good results could be achieved (with snazzy promotional material to boot).

(Apologies to Tom if broadcasting this plea here this bothers you.)

 
At 11:03 AM, December 11, 2007, Anonymous Andy said...

"I'd rather a group that was moderate on the roading topic, i.e. either felt roads were an important part of any balanced transport network, (but may disagree on the configuration), or were at least not openly hostile to roads. Because I think it does any cause a disservice when groups get extremist."

I think roads are a part of any balanced transport network, but I also think we've already got all the roads we need in order to satisfy that part of the balance.

There are already enough of a pro-roading bias in the debate, and mitigating that requires a certain level of hostility in my opinion. When you're negotiating with someone whose goals are that radically different from your own, you dont start with your bargaining position at the point of reasonability versus their extremism.

 
At 10:00 PM, December 11, 2007, Anonymous Michael said...

"Actually, is there any interest from Tom's readers (inclusive of Tom) in getting organised in some way to lobby for a particular outcome with this plan?"
Yes. I'm not particularly qualified, but what you outlined is broadly in line with my thinking too.

 
At 8:34 AM, December 12, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Erentz: I'm with you on the lobby group idea, and I especially agree that it needs to start soon, especially since some commentators (e.g. the DomPost) are trying to make this look like a funding battle between different sets of roading schemes, with PT as a very distant afterthought. I'm not sure whether I'll be in a position to put a lot of time into such a group, but I'll certainly add my input and promote it where possible.

I think I'm with Andy in that we have enough roading capacity for the future, provided there's a shift in mindset towards PT. I wouldn't be totally averse to some roading improvements to remove specific choke points or improve safety, but not major increases in the number of lanes. We do need to be careful not to come across as mad hippies, but on the other hand we should be strongly promoting the idea that there is another way.

 
At 4:56 AM, December 13, 2007, Anonymous Kevyn Miller said...

Andy, Is it the the WCC and WRC that have the extremist position on roads? Or Cabinet?
I presume you aren't referring to Transit. That would be tantamount to arguing that OnTrack have an extremist position regarding railways.
I can understand LTNZ having a pro-roads bias as they get all there funding from road user fees, which were originally intended to relieve ratepayers of the burden of developing Main Highways, or State Highways as they are known today.
Would the WCC and WRC change their tune if the Funding Assistance Rates were increased from the current approx. 50% to 100%? The rate of assistance for local roads hasn't been increased for 50 years despite the huge increase in the proportion of local roads carrying heavy volumes of traffic. PT subsidies were only transferred from Crown to the road fund 18 years ago but the amount of subsidies has increased 50 fold since then. The real assistance paid to local authorities for local roads has been stuck at $m400
(2006 dollars) since 1960. I don't have any problem with road users relieving ratepayers of the entire burden of funding land transport. I think it is essential that maintenance and operations of PT receive the rate of subsidy as capital investment otherwise there is a temptation to build flash new systems simply because the cash is available for that and not for maintaining and operating an already succesful system. The different rates of subsidies for State Highways and local roads and PT creates obvious problems in urban areas especially Auckland and Wellington where motorways become the preferred option simply because they don't impact on rates and that can have an undue influence on councillors who have an eye on keeping their seats at the next election.
I now live in Christchurch so the precise situation you were referring to isn't covered in the local papers.

PS, Tom, I realise this is off-topic but do you know anything about the proposed 26 story "The Pinnacle" apartment building in Central Christchurch? This is the only article with a decent picture that I have been able to find. Any comments?
http://www.nbr.co.nz/home/column_article.asp?id=19685&cid=16&cname=

 
At 11:40 AM, December 15, 2007, Blogger Erentz said...

Okay, to get started I've created a Yahoo Group boringly titled lightrail_wgtn.

If those that are interested in taking part want to sign up, we can see how much effort we'll have available, and look at going from there.

(Of course you're not obligated to anything by signing up, if you're merely curious go for it.)

 

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