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Bypass A Victory For Spin And Closed Minds, Greens

3 May, 2004

Bypass a victory for spin and closed minds, say Greens

The Green Party says today's decision by Transfund to approve funding for Wellington's Inner City Bypass project is a victory for minds set in concrete.

"Responsibility rests squarely with the Government, which failed to ensure that Transit and Transfund undertook a rigorous review of the project and actively looked for better alternatives," said Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.

"If Transit and Transfund had complied with the Land Transport Management Act and properly reviewed this project against the new criteria the Bypass would not proceed. Instead Transit has treated the review as an exercise in spin, and closed its mind to alternatives. The Government is responsible for allowing this.

"The entire rationale for the project amounts to nothing more than an orchestrated litany of lies. For a start, it isn't even a 'bypass'! Travel times across the city will not dramatically improve; rather many journey times will increase due to worsened congestion around the Basin Reserve and in south-west Te Aro.

"Nor will the Bypass 'reinvigorate' Te Aro. The roading lobby's fixation with the project has already seen the degradation of many of the area's unique historic buildings and entire heritage areas will be destroyed in the construction process. In place of a heritage heart, Te Aro will have a concrete traffic sewer."

Ms Fitzsimons said Transit knows that alternatives exist that would deliver most of the traffic benefits at far less social and environmental cost. "Pursuing the bypass in this situation is little more than the establishment bullying the poor and the vulnerable to show who is boss."

Ms Fitzsimons also noted that a survey of Wellington business opinion published last week found that most businesses said their operations were not suffering delays because of traffic congestion.

The Greens made a detailed analysis of Transit's assessment of the Bypass project (which can be found at: http://greens.co.nz/searchdocs/other7406.html) available to Transfund last week. Ms Fitzsimons said it was incomprehensible Transfund could have studied that analysis and still reached the decision it had.

Wellington MP and local Transport spokesperson Sue Kedgley pointed out that progressive cities around the world didn't demolish their most historic quarters or build bypasses through their inner cities.

"Wellingtonians will look back in a few years and wonder why on earth we destroyed our heritage only to be stuck in another traffic jam," said Ms Kedgley. "The Bypass won't relieve congestion and people will eventually realise they have been conned into accepting this expensive, but worthless, project."


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