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Friday, 26 April 2019 01:40 am

Wellingtonians have a say in getting their city moving – but be quick

Traffic between the Basin Reserve and the Mt Victoria tunnel.

Traffic between the Basin Reserve and the Mt Victoria tunnel.

Wellingtonians fed up with no say in how best to deal with traffic congestion have the chance to do just that – but they only have six weeks to speak up.

People who live, work and play in the capital are being encouraged to tell their stories and give their opinions on how best to get around the city in future.

Last night, a joint group of transport experts launched a website aimed at engaging those who want a say in how Wellington looks, feels and functions.

The website – getwellymoving.co.nz – is the main conduit for feedback to the Let’s Get Wellington Moving initiative.

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It is a partnership between Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA).

The group is tasked specifically with a review of the traffic corridor between the motorway at Ngauranga through to the airport.

It was set-up in September 2015 after public backlash against the NZTA’s Basin Reserve Flyover which was cancelled around the same time.

The chair of Greater Wellington, Chris Laidlaw, said the process wasn’t conducted properly last time.

“To its credit NZTA has agreed to open the process up to public input and look at the solution in a much more holistic way.”

He said the urban design needs to be considered.

“The calming of traffic and the creation of better spaces for people to walk and cycle, and for buses and maybe in the long-run light-rail.”

Laidlaw said the website would help achieve a sense of what is and isn’t working for people and enable Council to lead the process more effectively.

“This means it will no longer be a series of skirmishes in a long war.”

MP for Wellington Central, Grant Robertson, said he was pleased at the opportunity for his constituents.

Deborah Hume, Communications and Engagement Champion presenting to stakeholders.

Deborah Hume, Communications and Engagement Champion presenting to stakeholders.

“I think it’s good we’re going back to basics to talk about what Wellingtonians want rather than having a solution provided by NZTA that we all have to go along with.”

But he expressed concern at the tight timeframe.

“I do hope that if it doesn’t end up being realistic, we can extend it out a little.”

Mr Robertson spoke of how important it was to proactively engage with groups and “not rely on the usual people to make their submissions”.

“It’s vitally important that it isn’t left up to the community – in their busy lives – to be able to show up to a meeting like this. It’s got to be much more and I think they understand that.

“This is an opportunity to build a bit of trust up with Wellingtonians and engage with the widest possible group.”

 Stakeholders have their say

Stakeholders present at the launch were asked to identify key things they did or didn’t like about Wellington’s existing transport corridor.

Most had positive things to say but there were a few negatives.

Wellington’s Eastern Ward Councillor Sarah Free said she was concerned at the 70kmh speed limit on Cobham Drive at the northern end of the airport’s runway.

“A 50kmh speed limit will slow traffic only slightly on this short stretch of road but it will save lives.”

Free says the recent death of a pedestrian on this stretch could have been avoided if the car that hit her was travelling at the proposed lower limit.

Pedestrian advocacy group Living Streets Aotearoa’s Ellen Barker said more emphasis needs to be placed on the needs of walkers.

Stakeholder likes and dislikes about the current transport system.

Stakeholder likes and dislikes about the current transport system.

“Seventeen per cent of adults in Wellington walk to work and 16% take the bus, but this growing part of the workforce isn’t reflected in the constant call for more roads.”

The Mt Victoria Residents Association’s Sue Watt wants to keep cars out of the central city.

“Cities are for people not cars. We need a cheap and effective public transport system to move people round the central city.”

Many groups were represented at the launch with representatives from central and local government as well as businesses and advocacy groups.

Wellington’s mayor Celia Wade-Brown said she was, “very excited at the turnout from a whole range of people for this real clean-slate approach”.

But said the solution was a complex issue.

“There are many people who think there can be some infrastructural improvements but there also needs to be a lot of improvements in public transport.”

Wade-Brown said a way to address congestion was to look at doing more in car-sharing and the prioritising of business vehicles.

The window for comment and proposals is open for six weeks from today, go to getwellymoving.co.nz

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