New group casts doubts on tunnel travel time
A NEW community group is challenging the estimated time savings in proposed Mt Victoria tunnel road changes and urging people to make submissions by August 26.
The group also claims NZ Transport Agency representatives contradicted themselves at a community workshop last month, where they said changes would result in slower traffic.
There are two weeks remaining for submissions on the alteration documents produced by the agency, which says its savings are focused on peak times.
They state the travel time from Cobham Drive to Buckle Street will be reduced by at least two minutes once changes are made on both sides of the tunnel.
David Laing, pictured, convener of Community and Sustainable Transport (CAST) says the claim of reduced travel time is hard to believe.
“It doesn’t seem very realistic to me,” says Mr Laing, whose group comprises Hataitai and Kilbirnie residents.
“You are putting more traffic lights in, how is the traffic going to move faster?”
The changes also include reducing the speed limit on Ruahine Street from 70kmh to 60kmh, and adding two new sets of traffic lights on the same street.
“Even though there are going to be more lanes, there are going to be more interruptions to the traffic flow” says Mr Laing.
He also says at a recent community workshop, NZTA said the changes may result in slower traffic flow.
NZTA’s state highway manager Rod James says their forecast travel times are based on models that show traffic signals in busy areas actually improve traffic flow in peak times.
“Journey time savings will be achieved by reducing congestion during peak times, increasing road capacity, and ensuring an efficient, smoothly flowing road configuration.”
Mr James says lowering the speed limit to 60kmh would not have a significant effect on travel times.
“Vehicle speeds are already significantly lower than this at peak times due to congestion.”
At a community meeting in July Wellington City Councillor Andy Foster said that the consultation document from NZTA is a game changer for Wellington, but also an opportunity for submitters to say what they think the future of the city should look like.
At the same meeting Wellington City Councillor Iona Pannett said she was supporting her community to try to stop the flyover and the second Mt Victoria tunnel.
She says there is not enough congestion at the moment to warrant the changes proposed by NZTA.
“The majority of council does support this project and the majority of the regional council does, but not everyone. Certainly the Mayor doesn’t.”
She says the public need to put in submissions and if they want to do more they should get involved with groups such as CAST or Save the Basin.
CAST is also encouraging people to fill out the submission form on the back of the NZTA’s consultation brochure and get them in by the August 26 deadline.
Brochures have been mailed to local residents and are also available at public libraries and at www.nzta.govt.nz/witi.