Study into Southern Link due


The NZTA study into the road dubbed the Southern Link could be announced within the next few weeks, but councillors and NZTA are remaining tight-lipped, refusing to comment to media.

NZTA said earlier this year that the study into the highly-controversial road could be finished before Christmas.

The study was initiated by the government after a Nelson City Council study in 2010 found that traffic flows didn’t justify a new arterial route.

The plan is controversial because it would mean the road – which would take traffic from St Vincent St to Whakatu Drive and would become State Highway 6 – would run through the middle of Victory.

There is also debate around whether there is enough traffic in the region to justify spending tens of millions of dollars on a new road.

Supporters of the link say it will take the State Highway off Rocks Rd, allowing it to be developed into a world-class promenade.

Another argument in support of the road is the vulnerability of Rocks Rd as a secure arterial route to the city. In 2011, the road was washed out for months after a massive storm, leaving just one route to the city, via Waimea Rd.

Nelson Weekly spoke with six councillors for their thoughts on the study and whether they supported the road. All refused to comment on the record because an email had gone out telling them to keep quiet on the issue until after the announcement.

NZTA spokesman Anthony Firth also refused to comment.

Dr John Moore, who heads the Guardians of Victory lobby group and is a former member of the regional transport committee says he was asked to form the group by NZTA but hasn’t had any information or consultation with them since.

“We are slightly bewildered at present. It started about a year ago. NZTA approached us and said ‘hey there’s this new review being done and we’re wondering how best to communicate with people who will be affected without spreading alarm’.

“That seemed a good idea to me. NZTA did not have a good record of communicating with the community so we came up with a formal relationship proposal. All written up and ready to sign got all the dots and crosses, then everything just stopped – just disappeared into a cloud. We last heard from them in March.”

Like John, Progress Nelson Tasman chair Craig Dennis says his group – which supports the road – are also in the dark about the progress of the study and says they’ve had no contact with NZTA since the study started. “There are mixed messages coming out – some saying very soon, some saying after Christmas.”

Craig says the road is important for the region and his group believes it will “unblock city stagnation”.

“It’s much more than just a transport corridor; it’s an enabler for a number of things. It’s an enhancement for a lot of opportunity – development of the waterfront – could be world class promenade.”

John says he opposes the proposed route because it simply doesn’t make sense.

“This is shonky, micky mouse, Alice in Wonderland stuff. There is no change in traffic patterns, doesn’t come within ‘coooee’ of the economic benefit rations that NZTA insist on, and the DHB study says it’s not warranted and it will have a number of social, economic and environmental harm.”