Fri. Nov 18th, 2022

Wellington cant afford to pause its $6.4 billion beleaguered transport upgrade, political leaders say, despite a scathing review warning a major rethink is needed to avoid possible failure.
The delays come amid mounting concerns about the future of the capitals creaking infrastructure, including its transport network, and the growing cost to the public purse of upgrading it.
The 20-year programme, called Lets Get Wellington Moving (LGWM), is meant to include a new road at the Basin Reserve, a second Mt Victoria tunnel and a new mass public transport connecting the airport and the city.
READ MORE:* D-day for Let’s Get Wellington Moving as review set to drop* As Auckland prepares for car-free Queen St, Wellington’s Golden Mile is stuck in neutral* What can people expect to see from the $6.4 billion Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme in 2021?
Is September, the LGWM board commissioned external consultants to conduct a review of the programme amid growing concerns about delays. The findings were made public on Friday and made for damning reading.
It found that the programme was at risk of failing to deliver, and needed to be paused so major problems could be addressed. Problems, may that have persisted since LGWMs inception five years ago, included under-resourcing, staff shortages, lack of expertise, and a lack of strategic leadership.
The preferred option for a reconfigured Basin Reserve road layout was revealed in 2019. (File photo)
Within the LGWM team, there is a lack of proven experience and expertise in delivering within a complex and large-scale integrated programme environment.
The review said its recommended pause would have implications for the time frames, scope and cost of transport projects in Wellington.
We consider this is preferable to the risk of failure to deliver the desired outcomes under the current approach.
However, the reviews recommendation that the programme be paused was rejected by local and central political leaders, with one claiming the public would be apoplectic at further delays.
Greater Wellington Regional Council chair Daran Ponter says he doesnt agree with the call to reset the programme. (File photo)
Greater Wellington Regional Council chair Daran Ponter, who sits on the LGWM governance reference group, said the review represented a snapshot in time, and work on the programme had not slowed down.
There actually hasnt been a pause, and I, for one, will not be agitating for a pause.
That would just send the public apoplectic.
Transport minister Michael Wood was also quick to reject the recommendation. In a letter sent on Friday to the LGWM leadership, Wood said the reviews recommendation to pause the programme was unacceptable, and set a two-week deadline for the LGWM leadership to produce a new plan to solve the capitals transport woes.
Wellingtonians have been waiting too long on progress to unlock our capital citys potential, he wrote.
An external review has called for Wellingtons $6.4 billion transport programme to be reset. (File photo)
It is my view that pausing to reconsider those objectives will only cause further delay in the programme. The only way we will restore public confidence is by making progress.
He urged board members to get on with the projects that were smaller in scale or more advanced in planning, including plans to improve walking and cycling options, and bus priority measures.
My expectation is that Waka Kotahi [NZ Transport Agency] will work with Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington [Regional Council] to support delivery on a timetable that helps to build public confidence and a sense of momentum.
Lets Get Wellington Moving programme director Andrew Body was not available for an interview on Friday. (File photo)
LGWM is a partnership between Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, overseen by a governance board and run by programme director Andrew Body.
On Friday, a spokesperson for the programme said Body was not available for interviews to respond to the review, or the possibility of further delays.
Instead, LGWM issued a statement saying the programmes three partners welcomed the health check, and progress had already been made to address the recommendations made since it first received the report in December.
LGWM had been working on developing a new vision, objectives, and mix of investments for the programme, along with new funding estimates, it said.
This work would be completed in March, the statement said.
Wellington Mayor Andy Foster says the reset is being done. (File photo)
Wellington Mayor Andy Foster, who also sits on the LGWM reference group, said a reset was being done, which included work to get the culture and morale of the organisation on track, but there would be no pause.
A mass public transport system between Wellingtons main railway station and airport is forecast to cost up to $2.2 billion. (File photo)
Some great technical work has been done and the last thing we want to do is to pause that.
Other regional mayors were unimpressed with the projects progress and said after five years, the time for talking was over.
We don’t need to spend six months focusing on what we need to do, we need to get some diggers in the ground, Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy said.
More than 300 businesses voiced their opposition to proposals for revamping the citys Golden Mile. (File photo)
Porirua Mayor Anita Baker said shed be appalled if they had to start the process again. She said the last round of planning and talking had lasted five years in which little had been done and the new problem with Wellingtons water pipes had compounded problems.
The Big Ideas
*all costs are forecast, and have not been confirmed
Second Mt Victoria tunnel, $700m Includes widening Ruahine St and Wellington Rd.
Basin Reserve tunnel, $190m a solution for the congested Basin Reserve roundabout on State Highway 1 is said to to include a tunnel under Sussex St
Mass rapid transit, $2.2b The preferred technology and route is yet to be determined. A proposed route in the LGWM plan runs from Wellington Railway Station along the waterfront quays, up Taranaki St, and past the Basin Reserve to Newtown and the airport.
Golden Mile revamp,$80 million The most radical plan would remove cars and car parks from the area, significantly widen footpaths and turn several side streets in Wellingtons inner city into pedestrian-only zones.
An extra Mt Victoria Tunnel on State Highway 1 is expected to cost about $700m. (File photo)
Reaction to Lets Get Wellington Moving review
“We don’t need to spend six months focusing on what we need to do, we need to get some diggers in the ground.” Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy
Wellingtonians have been waiting too long on progress to unlock our capital citys potential. Transport Minister Michael Wood
I cant see how theyre thinking about how these projects might work alongside housing and public health. Dr Imran Muhammad, transport and urban planning academic
We need to get cars off the road, and we need a reliable fast mass transit system that can be set up quickly. Road Transport Forum chief executive and former Porirua mayor NIck Leggett
Weve made some decisions, and now we have to get on with it and do the work. Porirua Mayor Anita Baker
The preferred option for a reconfigured Basin Reserve road layout was revealed in mid-2019. It includes an extended Sussex St connecting to Kent/Cambridge Terrace, running over the top of a new tunnel. (File photo)
Construction of a mass transit system is due to begin between 2024 and 2029.
The most radical option for revamping Wellington’s Golden Mile includes removing all general traffic from the central city thoroughfare. (File photo)
Public consultation on a proposed pedestrian and cycling route across Cobham Drive on State Highway 1 has been delayed. (File photo)
Changes to public transport, walking and cycling facilities are planned for Thorndon Quay, north of Wellington Railway Station. (File photo)