There have been a couple of articles in the NZ Herald this week relating to the ongoing saga around whether the Wellington Street onramp will be reopened. First yesterday:
Pressure is building on the Transport Agency to honour a commitment to reopen an Auckland motorway ramp which it closed during its $406 million Victoria Park tunnel project.
Western bays residents battling against having roads clogged by refugees from the continued closure of the Wellington St ramp won support yesterday from the Auckland Council’s transport committee.
The Automobile Association is also demanding the ramp be reopened, saying it understood the closure was to be only temporary, and the lack of motorway access from Wellington St was causing unacceptable congestion to local roads.
Although the Transport Agency spent an undisclosed sum upgrading the ramp, its future became uncertain when it opened two of the tunnel’s three lanes late last year, and was initially overwhelmed by long queues of traffic trying to get through it.
The article goes on to quote NZTA saying that they have an open mind around whether the ramp will be reopened or not, which does beg the question about why they haven’t reopened it yet to see what happens. Or the really interesting question about why their original plans to reopen the ramp have changed so much. Surely they should be analysing this kind of thing when designing a project?
This “the ramps were part of the deal” issue was then highlighted in another article in today’s NZ Herald, which points out the interesting question of whether the resource consent for the project relied upon the ramp being reopened:
Residents campaigning to reopen the Wellington St motorway ramp from central Auckland have been told its retention was a condition of approval for the new Victoria Park tunnel.
Former Auckland City Council member Graeme Easte has told them he believes the Transport Agency will need to obtain a change to the motorway’s land designation if it wants to keep the ramp closed to general traffic.
Mr Easte, one of a seven-member hearings panel which, in 2006, approved a designation application by the former Transit NZ, said: “We were told that the Wellington St on-ramp would be retained in modified form.
“As local councillor, I was well aware of resident concerns about existing traffic loads on Curran St and would not have approved closure of the Wellington St on-ramp if it had been proposed.”
One would think that if keeping the Wellington street onramp was a condition of the Victoria Park Tunnel project proceeding, then the ramp will need to be reopened.
My feeling is that this is just another example of how selfish and narrow-minded NZTA have become over the past few years in trying to improve traffic flows on the motorway any way they can – including by pushing congestion off the motorway and onto local roads. The ramp signals are often a classic example of this mentality: yeah sure they speed up traffic a little bit on the motorway, but they do that simply by shifting the congestion onto the onramps and onto the streets feeding into the motorway. There’s no net gain, just endless frustration of sitting there going nowhere for ages.
I’m enjoying seeing NZTA getting egg smeared all over their face on this issue. They deserve it.