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Photo of the day – Basin Bridge

As part of the EPA process, the NZTA have released some new images showing before and afters of the ugly flyover they are proposing called the Basin Bridge.

Basin Bridge 1

Basin Bridge 2-1

Basin Bridge 3-1

Basin Bridge 4-1

65 comments to Photo of the day – Basin Bridge

  • Fred

    Wow that’s horrible. Looking forward to Auckland’s version of this as part of AMETI through Pakuranga.

  • The peer review report also released today has some interesting comments on the design and modelling…

  • I like all of the after photos better than the before photos. I’m all for better and more sustainable transport investment but relying on your own personal, subjective aesthetic taste isn’t the most compelling case you could make.

    • Remember they are presenting the best possible after photos where everything is pretty and landscaped. That will be the first part of the budget cut if they get consent.

      • SF Lauren

        That is a blatant lie. If landscaping is a consent condition it cant be removed. I would like you to lists some projects that have actually been able to get away with doing so.

        • Only if the landscaping is a condition of consent

          • SF Lauren

            Generally what ever is shown in the consent documents becomes a requirment if approved. So if you show landscaping it is required however you can change little things like plant types and the layout.

        • Mark Harris

          Internal survey at NZTA last year showed they were in breach or had not fulfilled 50% of conditions attached to projects. They deny this survey exists. In Kapiti, they are already breaching and changing consents. They really don’t give a damn about the law. It’s not a blatent lie to say they will cut this stuff if budget becomes a problem – it’s a prophecy.

    • Ok, do explain how investing in further auto dependency is ‘better and more sustainable transport investment’ especially as NZTA’s own modelling shows that this ‘investment’ will lead to a fall in Public transport use and an increase private vehicle trips?

      Sorry BJ, you’ve just got to find these things pretty because they sure are stupid.

      This is a flyover for a flyover’s sake: no attempt at anything else.

      • Lianne

        Brendon was simply stating the argument, “It’s ugly” doesn’t work. I know him personally and know that he is very much for public transport and moving away from auto dependency/building more roads and motorways.

    • Nick R

      Yeah the afters are awesome! We should build a flyover around Eden Park to make it as awesome as the Basin Reserve. Maybe down Queen St too, or across Wynyard.

    • obi

      It’s a pretty horrible area at the moment. A giant roundabout with lots of weaving traffic. And a variety of ugly businesses like car yards, low-rent motels, and booze shops. All of the buildings in the area are tatty, and the cricket ground is run down too. I don’t see what the fuss is, and there is actually an opportunity to improve the area.

      Flyovers and elevated sections of railway are fairly common in the rail world. I don’t see anyone complaining about them in, say, Vancouver which is often cited here as an example of a city with great urban design.

      • peg

        You are confusing cause and effect. The area is run down and tatty because of uncertainty over SH1 options over the last 30 years.

        • obi

          The run down look extends away from the Basin itself. Cambridge and Kent Terraces have the same car yard look about them, although they improve down at the Courtenay Place end. Adelaide Road leading down to Newtown is one of the ugliest streets in the country. This isn’t development uncertainty. It’s just the arse end of town where the low end retail activity locates itself because it is cheap. It isn’t Wynyard or Queen Street or Eden Park. It is more like an inner city equivalent of a light industrial part of Onehunga.

          • peg

            No, there’s plenty of development uncertainty along Adelaide Road – the Adelaide Road framework has been around since 2008 and is key to council’s long term urban growth spine/public transport plans for the city. Indeed from the WCC point of view the whole rationale for the basin flyover is to remove the point of conflict with SH1 so they can get on with public transport improvements along Adelaide Road and intensify the area. So yes, agreed, currently it is very crappy indeed, but Adelaide Rd is actually key to Wellington’s future in terms of planning.

        • SF Lauren

          Ah that must be the reason why the auckland CBD is all run down because of the uncertanty over the CRL for the past 100 years.

          • Well the CRL has had a much less certain future.

          • Stanley St and The Strand are a good example of that. Large swathes are empty or abandoned as they are held for a motorway extension that may or may not happen some time in the future.

          • SF Lauren

            Cant say i know of any motorways that are holding those sections of land back, other than the existing ones.

            If you look at Wynyard a large tunnel or bridge could go right through there yet people are building away.

      • No this is brilliant, exactly what NZTA and it’s predecessors did to upper Cuba St. They either buy the land or just put a designation over it, either way no investment happens to the existing properties for 20 odd years, which of course can only have low value tenants because of the demo clause hanging over the lease, then turn up at the environment court hearing with heaps of images showing how the area is a low value slum and, really, it would be doing it a favour by flattening it with a flyover/motorway/trench as there will of course be some chump change for ‘mitigation’ ie a bit of planting to be enjoyed by precisely nobody, because of the nearby new motorway. Brilliant. Come back Kafka.

        Whatever the question a motorway is always the answer. And please go and see the horrible disaster that is the road through there now, with its stupid little plots ‘land-left-over-after-road-building’ with sad never-used park benches and meaningless planting. And the destruction of the good Victorian street grid to the vile and pointless swooping vehicle speed enabling new geometries is beyond contempt. These people can’t help themselves violating place quality through their thoughtless ignorance. Travel Time Savings is the meanest little religion. This part of Wellington is being systematically dismantled.

        As for motorways versus rail lines; of course ideally both are better underground, but even when elevated rail lines are of course narrower so less invasive and when electric quieter. But then no one is suggesting an elevated rail line here as the alternative so that’s a very odd addition to the debate.

        • obi

          “Whatever the question a motorway is always the answer.”

          Except in this case, where the answer isn’t a motorway. Or the inner-city bypass, which isn’t a motorway either. Even if I agree with you that it is a mess of a road.

          I’m looking for a bit of consistency here. A two line section of elevated railway isn’t much narrower than a two lane Basin bypass. Build one in Vancouver and we celebrate the place. Build the other in Wellington and there is mass hysteria. Why? I’m struggling for anything other than a knee jerk reaction against new roads.

          • Bryce P

            I would think that an elevated skytrain line past the same point would meet similar derision.

          • I’m for undergrounding both these kinds of infrastructure in urban areas. And I don’t think it’s the elevated nature of the Skytrain in particular that is celebrated in other articles on this site. Looks pretty ugly to me.

            However I do confess to a bit of a sentimentality for railway arches in London; their bricky form, the great number and variety of small business they harbour, even the doleful sound of the trains from the streets below.

            There’ll be none of that here, and nor would there be from a contemporary elevated rail system I agree. Arguably the ugliest bridge in Auckland is the new one for the trains at the bottom of Parnell, although even that can be blamed on motorway plans, as future ones explain the otherwise uncalled for scale of the thing; so ill-proportioned. Though why the needless faux archery, lord alone knows.

  • Of course, there’s no guarantee any real ‘after’ would be like these mockups.

    “Ok, do explain how investing in further auto dependency is ‘better and more sustainable transport investment’ especially as NZTA’s own modelling shows that this ‘investment’ will lead to a fall in Public transport use and an increase private vehicle trips?”

    I’m not supporting the flyover, I’m just saying “look it’s ugly” isn’t a good argument when many people don’t find it ugly.

  • Sacha

    How about “Look it’s expensive”?

  • peg

    From the report:

    [i]The cheapest tunnel option that provided a tunnel in front of the Basin Reserve was found to be over $100million more expensive than Option A, yet produced almost no additional benefits.[/i]

    Of course they mean benefits for motorists. Benefits to the urban area and Wellington in general of course don’t count. If they put it in a tunnel they could connect the Basin with the War Memorial as a much needed park.

    In the meantime we have to put up with this monstrosity for the next 100 years for the sake of 100 million dollars. Unbelievable.

    • Greg N

      Well, Auckland got shafted with the same argument with V.P.Tunnel – NZTA only paid for the tunnelling for the north bound lanes for a mere $40m of difference over doing both sets of lanes in tunnels at once – again the “benefits” of improving the urban environment don’t count much, whereas a few seconds of your morning car trip does count for a lot more.

      So you’re right to feel hard done by.

      Its even more galling in your case because a few hundred meters up the road will be a 300m 3 lane wide long tunnel under the park in front of the National War Memorial for $120m which is being built right now..
      .
      So NZTA aren’t afraid of expensive tunnels (even if they’re chepie cut and cover jobs) – go figure on the logic at work here.

    • Greg N

      “over $100million more expensive than Option A, yet produced almost no additional benefits”

      They are right you know – it probably is as they say.

      But the reason why the flyover is “cheaper” is because they don’t include dis-benefits in their calculations of the flyovers “costs”.
      They only include “positive” benefits and construction costs, and never the huge negatives (the dis-benefits) – like a place-ruining flyover, the environmental damage from all that induced traffic of tons more traffic or the fact you’re building something with no PT component and which will need to be re-engineered for PT in the next 15 or so years.

      And even when they do include them – they don’t value the dis-benefits at the same rate as the benefits, so you get totally one sided accounting going on.

      So they can tell you to 10 decimal places the “cost” of the tunnel option versus the fly-over option in terms of construction costs and the notional benefits to road users.

      But without the other side of the ledger, the cheapest option will always win and thats always the “open-cast mine” option.

  • A Dingo Stole my Pushbike

    If they are going to go ahead with this they need a few lessons from Bilbao to make it less obtrusive. Few pedestrians will use that overbridge. It is too narrow, barren and exposed to the elements.

  • Peter F

    Aren’t before and after pics supposed to make you exclaim, ‘wow that looks better!’. I don’t have that reaction. After this they’ll have to continue it through Kilbirnie with big flyovers too won’t they??

  • peg

    Here’s the report with Option F in it, costed at $160 to $220m dollars in 2011. http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/basin-reserve/docs/basin-reserve-options-report.pdf Option F was dismissed in the first round as being too expensive.

    Note that these numbers are pre-Memorial tunnel approval so it would be cheaper now. After all they’ve got the diggers already on site.

    The report shows that a tunnel is technically feasible even though the land slopes away down to the Basin.

  • Mike

    The “after” photos are very misleading, because they don’t include the large building included in the application designed to screen the flyover from the Basin – and block any remaining viewshaft to/from Cambridge/Kent Terraces.

    • Mike

      The NZTA web page linked at the top of the post has links to files including the “after” photos above, but also “after” ones showing the large screening building. It’s the latter photos, not the ones above, that show the full effects of the project.

      • So why include the no building options in the images then? My guess is the NZTA are hoping to get away with having to build that.

        • Mike

          Matt L – the with-building photos are the bottom ones in the same files as the without-building ones, which is presumably where you got the latter. NZTA was asked to produce both, and has done – there’s no justification for passing any aspersions on them in this respect!

  • There are also, typically, no views from under these vile things. From even more elevated angles like the first and third pairs, the flyover appears more similar to a terrestrial road than it will be from any actual point in the area that people will occupy. It simply isn’t relevant how it appears to the odd passing seagull.

  • Ben S

    That’s utterly tragic for W-town – the Basin is a treasure that should be… well, treasured. Once again shows we’re decades behind in our urban thinking. Hope the locals kerb crawl it when the cricket’s on for free views of the action.

    • Mike

      Ben S – kerb crawling will be pointless, I’m afraid, because views of the Basin from the bridge will be blocked by the proposed new building, as shown in the “after” photos on the EPA website.

  • Max

    Again, I am wondering where they get the 30 y/o trees from for their nice visuals. These should show 5 y/o trees at maximum. Small things. Way too easy to simply show how mature trees will cover lots of sins (yeah, maybe after 20+ years).

  • Warren S

    In San Francisco they pulled down the Embarcadero Freeway down and found it was a much better place without it to the joy of all. In Seattle they are currently demolishing the two tier elevated Alaslka Highway to unify the city and foreshore and make it a “people place”.This structure for Wellington is last century’s solution – why can’t NZTA do better? Unbelievable!

  • This project is absolutely vital. There are about 120 people enormously important who suffer congestion twice a week, many weeks of the year as they move between the airport and Molesworth Street. The project should have been down yesterday!

    Maybe in a few years we might start the CRL where thousands of much less important rail passengers will be benefitted every day; not to mention thousands of bus and car passengers who will be assisted by less traffic in city streets.

    This government is really taking the urine.

    (I travelled the airport route regularly until three years ago).

    • Steve D

      For extra comedy value, the project doesn’t even do anything for traffic going *to* the airport, which actually has a fixed deadline. It only benefits people in cars heading out of the airport, where presumably waiting another 90 seconds to go around the Basin won’t be the end of the world.

      • Frank E

        Can’t let facts get in the way of spewing some vitriol. Around 60,000 vehicles use the roads in this area.

        • Steve D

          @Frank E: Are you talking to me or taka-ite there? I stand by my statement that the project is worthless for traffic going towards the airport.

          Either way, I agree with taka-ite. The Basin isn’t real congestion. Harden up. You live in a city, sometimes there’s going to be another car around and you might have to wait at a traffic light for it.

  • obi

    The Auckland rail system carries about 30,000 passengers a day. I believe the Basin roundabout carries about 70,000 vehicles a day, including a hell of a lot of buses. A bit of congestion relief at the Basin is going to result in improved outcomes for way more people than the CRL, including public transport passengers. And for a fraction of the cost.

    Yet again we see a bit of modest roading puncture the myth that rail has much higher capacity than road. The Basin roundabout is the road equivalent of the Britomart tunnel… a bit of badly specified infrastructure that limits the overall capacity of the system. And yet it outperforms Britomart by a factor of three, give or take.The flyover is supposed to take 25,000 vehicles a day off the roundabout, which means that the two lane flyover will transport almost as many people as the entire Auckland rail system.

    • obi

      Oops… that was in reply to: “There are about 120 people enormously important who suffer congestion twice a week, many weeks of the year as they move between the airport and Molesworth Street.”

    • You’re way out on the basin numbers. NZTA numbers show average daily vehicles on all of the roads around the Basin Reserve at ~38,500 people per day

      • obi

        Page 5 of the link http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/basin-reserve/docs/basin-reserve-options-report.pdf posted earlier says that:

        26,000 vehicles enter from Kent Terrace
        18,000 vehicles enter from the Mt Vic tunnel
        14,000 vehicles enter from Adelaide Rd
        ———–
        58,000 vehicles

        So I’m a little high on vehicles. It’s hard to estimate numbers of people since I don’t have the number of buses. But it is on a major bus spine, so it is going to be significant.

        • Dave B

          And all those weary travellers from the airport could get into town, and beyond to any rail-served part of the region, much more quickly if the current regional rail system was extended through the CBD…, through the southern suburbs…, and out to the airport. Most of the time the drive to/from the airport is ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM AT ALL. But public transport access to the airport from major places such as Johnsonville, Porirua, Upper Hutt, Paraparaumu is PITIFUL.
          Consultants De Leuw Cather in 1963 + 1966 recommended that Wellington urgently needed to extend its rail system southwards. Since then we have had 50 whole years of doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
          So drop the road and bring on the Levin – Airport Railway of National Significance! And if it means getting rid of the present Govt to achieve this then bring that on too..

          • Steve D

            A Labour government isn’t going to spend upwards of a billion dollars on a rail extension to the airport either.

            You know what the best solution is? Do nothing. It’s free. Wellington’s not growing (at least to the south), the traffic is perfectly fine. We could extend the bus lanes, and we might someday want to convert the trolley buses to light rail, but none of that needs a flyover for cars (maybe an underpass north-south under the basin for the trams).

            Wellington could do with a bit of investment in cycling and fixing pedestrian issues, but I think the south already has all the roads and even PT infrastructure it’s likely to need pretty much for the forseeable future. I guess the corner of Ruahine Street & Wellington Road could do with fixing, but that’s it.

          • Dave B

            @ Steve D: Fine. So no need to spend upwards of $2.4 bn on a Levin – Airport motorway then. Tell that to the Nat Govt who are hell-bent on doing it!

            I am only trying to suggest a better alternative to this huge waste of money which is aimed at gold-plating the motorists’ already perfectly adequate provison given, as you say, that Wgtn is not growing.

            But you have to admit, terminating the entire regional rail system at the present station does little to join the city up, and fails to make the best use of the existing rail infrastructure. It’s like terminating the motorway at a big carpark in Thorndon and telling all motorists to get out and walk or catch a bus.

            That $2.4+ bn would buy an awful lot of railway!

          • Steve D

            @Dave B: Your alternative would be a better use of $2.4 billion than the entire Airport-Levin RoNS, but I think it’s still a poor use of money. Part of the problem with RoNS, and Auckland’s ITP. and so on, is that we’re planning 30 years ahead to be able to build everything on the wishlist, and locking ourselves into decades of debt with PPPs.

            Spend a fraction of the money on PT – there’s a bit of work needed to the north of Wellington, like finishing double-tracking on the Kapiti Line and increasing frequencies. Spend a bit more on walking and cycling. But our goal should be to spend less on transport, not just waste it differently.

          • Mike

            Steve D – it seems that you haven’t had the pleasure of taking a bus along Wellington’s Golden Mile at peak times, where it’s not uncommon to have half-a-dozen (or more) buses queuing at the same stop, each stopping several times for passengers to board and alight, and then the same happening at the next stop, and the next one… Nearly every Wellington bus route goes along the Golden Mile, and they are all delayed and disrupted every working day, making the PT network slow, unreliable and inefficient. The Public Transport Spine Study is designed to address this, but unfortunately the so-far preferred BRT solution (which is barely BRT at all) actually reduces capacity along the Golden Mile, and all the way through to Kilbirnie and Miramar, bizarre as this may seem. What a way to spend $200m+!

            Spending a bit more for LRT gives the capacity, and the desirable urban space and pedestrian fiendliness, that would resolve this – and with the possibility of tram-trains sharing KiwiRail’s tracks at some time in the future. Regrettably the PTSS authors seem to see PT provision as a problem to be minimised, not the opportunity to be maximised for regeneration, urban development, the urban realm, pedestrians, shoppers and businesses that many people overseas see.

          • Steve D

            @Mike: I used to live in Wellington until 2012 (grew up there) and for a lot of that time commuted regularly along the length of the Golden Mile (Karori to Courtenay Place on the 3, then at a later job the opposite way Mt Cook to Bowen Street on the 10 or 11).

            I don’t really see there being much improvement possible along the Golden Mile for a reasonable budget and acceptability factor. Integrated ticketing and both-door boarding could help a bit, as could drastic reallocations of roadspace (making Lambton Quay and Courtenay Place fully dedicated four-lane transitways, for example).

            From memory it took about 15-20 minutes in peak to go the length of the Golden Mile (similar speeds to crawling along Symonds Street in Auckland!) Some of that is boarding time, but a lot is just waiting at signals, too. By running fewer and larger buses or trams, you might manage to save as much as 5 minutes, but that won’t actually speed up anyone’s commute if it comes at the cost of lower frequencies or more transfers.

            The only real way to speed that trip up would be grade separation – which would need to be a tunnel, probably rail, and as I said, cost billions.

          • Mike

            Steve D – your suggestions about roadspace, reallocation of roadspace (of the 17 total lanes (I think) through/past the CBD, PT, with c30% of peak traffic, uses just two), integrated ticketing, all-door boarding and fewer larger vehicles all make sense and are quite doable – and transfers, done properly (eg a la Zurich) are more than offset by faster (and, perhaps more important, more reliable) CBD transits, retainaing or improving effective end-to-en frequencies.

            Ameliorated thus, grade separation would be a long way in the future.

          • Steve D

            @Mike: I was saying that fewer larger vehicles was a bad or at best neutral idea. I don’t think it could shave even 5 minutes off, really – boarding will be faster, but that’s it. If we go from 5 minute to 10 minute frequencies, or you have to wait 5 minutes for a transfer. you’ve already lost most of that time again.

            But yes, the ultimate point was that we can do some marginal cheap things that will make marginal improvements, but there’s no reason to spend serious money on anything in South Wellington for a long time.

          • Steve D

            @Mike: Re: number of lanes, it really depends how and where you count them. I’d say 19 pass through at about the latitude of Waring Taylor Street, from the motorway to the harbour’s edge, and that’s about the narrowest point.

            Making Lambton Quay bus-only (and closing Willis St to cars, too) would involve two-waying the Featherston/Victoria corridor, so it is actually pretty drastic, especially since WCC wants to calm traffic and reduce the number of lanes on the Quays.

          • Mike

            Steve D – so if there are 19 lanes in total, that means roughly 10% of the lanes carry 30% of the passengers. Making the western carriageway of Lambton Quay PT only wouldn’t require anything to be done to Featherston St, and a 90sec/2-minute frequency of larger vehicles (at least double articulated) with good transfers (5 minutes is far too long – the Swiss and Germans would just laugh) could easily match current end-to-end frequencies, with much improved reliability. Bus-on-bus delays are reduced if not eliminated, and Spine Study has a peak Courtenay Place – Wellington Station time under those conditions of about 7/8 minutes – twice as fast as today.

  • Cubrick

    Looks great – get on with it. Anyone who actually lives in Wellington can tell you it’s a pretty shabby part of town. Looks a lot better than what alarmists were claiming.

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