Friday, June 3, 2011

Option block

Let us go back, back, back in time to that misty day last November—was it only then?—that the Dominion Post told Wellingtonians: ‘Five options to fix traffic woes around the Basin Reserve—including three flyover proposals—will be released later this month.’ The paper also quoted New Zealand Transport Agency regional director Deborah Hume saying that public consultation on these options would start ‘within the next month.’

Curiously, no such consultation took place, and curiouser still, the Transport Agency has now announced that there are only two options, and they’re both flyovers.

Clearly, in the spirit of the great age of motoring, the agency has taken its cue from Henry Ford, who said you could have his cars in any colour you liked, so long as it was black.

Equally clearly, in the spirit of the great age of mass manipulation, the agency is treating the people of Wellington with contempt. It has stalled and stalled on revealing details or even broad plans for what it would like to do around the Basin Reserve, and even now is still withholding maps and graphics of the proposed flyovers. As for the other options that might have been—no sign of them and no opportunity for anyone to be ‘consulted’ about them, for whatever that may be worth. And even if there were, the whole issue has been framed in such a way as to exclude consideration of whether major new roads are needed at all.

Anyone with a working knowledge of this issue knows that the Transport Minister and the Transport Agency privately made up their minds a long time ago that a flyover will be built no matter what the objections and, indeed, no matter what the cost/benefit ratio. Similarly with a second Mt Victoria tunnel. And with a four-lane highway through Hataitai to the airport. All done and dusted, no question of that. The only question now is whether they can brazen it out publicly long enough to make each of these Think Big projects a fait accompli. People of Wellington, your fait is in your hands.

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