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Transit Must Reconsider 'Bypass' After Review

Transit Must Reconsider 'Bypass' After Review - Greens

Green Transport Spokesperson and former Wellington City Councillor Sue Kedgley today welcomed the release of an independent review of the proposed inner-city 'bypass' and called on the Government to put the $25 million cost of this project into public transport improvements instead.

"The overriding conclusion from the review is that big questions hang over this project," said Ms Kedgley. "Transit now has a chance to back away gracefully rather than spending yet more money chasing a controversial, high-risk project, while Government can ensure this money stays in Wellington and is directed into what most Wellingtonians want - improved public transport."

Transfund initiated the review after discussions between the Government and the Green Party over the need for closer scrutiny of major urban roading projects. Campaign for a Better City also provided information to the reviewer.

The reviewer has vindicated claims made by the Green Party and CBC that Transit ignored so called 'induced traffic'. This is the process by which building new roads encourages more people to drive and erodes the claimed benefits.

"Induced traffic is a key reason why new roads mean more, not less congestion," said Ms Kedgley.

Transit is also criticised in the review for the fact that its traffic data is old and high risk and that its claimed benefits for weekend traffic seem suspect.

"All in all it adds up to a strong obligation on Transit to rethink this project - the challenge for the new Transit Board is to see this as an opportunity for fresh thinking."

Ms Kedgley was disappointed the reviewer had kicked for touch over environmental effects such as the destruction of one of Wellington's major heritage areas.

"The review has placed strong reliance on the Environment Court decision. This is unfortunate as the Court itself said it was only looking at the question of a designation rather than the project itself. Transfund as funder needs to fully examine and cost environmental and social effects as its procedures require.

"Now is a good time to stop and ask ourselves whether a route chosen in 1963 has any relevance to Wellington in 2001. Our choice is between a pointless 'high risk' project and serious ongoing conflict, or fresh thinking that builds on Wellington's strengths," said Ms Kedgley.


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