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New Karori Tunnel Would Unlock Access For 25,000 WesternResidents

Karori Residents Association has come up with a comprehensive proposal that would see greater access for around 18,000 Karori residents plus Karori businesses and public transport of all types, as well as at least seven thousand more western suburbs residents. Karori development – residential and commercial – has been plagued by severely restricted transport access according to proposal writer, retired civil engineer and Karori resident Bill Guest1.

“For many years, Karori was, and may still well be, the biggest single suburb by population in Wellington City,” Mr Guest said. “With proposed new suburban development plans and plenty of available developable land, Karori is likely to be an area of significant further growth.

“However, Karori is already at a tipping point, and further growth without addressing our transport bottlenecks will make us all worse off.

“Our proposal solves these transport problems and unlocks economic benefits in the short and long term. It is centred on a new 350m long tunnel alternative with a reasonable gradient that starts further north on Chaytor St than the current tunnel and connects to The Rigi beside Glenmore Street. It solves the problems of access for double decker bus public transport and similar restrictions on goods vehicles. It also solves other significant issues associated with re-designing the existing tunnel or previous other tunnel options that were investigated going back more than 60 years.

“Right now, both the suburb’s residents and wider catchments of Makara, Creswick Valley, Northland, Wilton and Otari are captive to a now hopelessly inadequate tunnel that effectively throttles residential and commercial transport of all types, particularly at peak hour. Traffic jams occur either side of the current tunnel and the flow-on impacts Kelburn, Aro Valley, Northland, Thorndon and beyond.

“It directly stifles public transport such as double-decker buses and is dangerous to ordinary buses, commercial trucks and vans, cycle traffic, pedestrian traffic and private vehicles. The tunnel in its current form is well past its ‘best-by’ date.

“We propose that a properly resourced and governed strategic study is undertaken by Wellington City Council, the NZTA, and Greater Wellington Regional Council. This should align with the zoning strategy for Karori. An economic analysis needs to identify the transport benefits as well as the property development benefits enabled through up-zoning and confirm that they exceed costs. The subsequent step is to protect the route through a designation and develop a funding plan based on the beneficiaries pay principle.

“We propose that the long-term local funding contributions be used to finance the project’s own debt, using the new Infrastructure Funding & Financing Act. There is no need for the debt to add to Wellington City Council’s public tax-backed debt.”

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