Nelson Future Access has presented three long-term options for Nelson’s transport woes. Not all of these will be submitted for funding and Waka Kotahi NZTA want your help to decide which package or combination of packages will work best for Nelson and the surrounding region. Over the next two weeks Sara Hollyman looks into what each of the tabled options will mean for Nelson.
Inland Route Package AKA the Southern Link
COST: $190–220M (A cut and cover underpass at the Toi Toi and St Vincent Street intersection would add an extra $30 to $40M).
This package is similar to the Southern Link, but not the same according to NZTA, although it looks at building a new road along the same corridor through the Railway Reserve and St Vincent St.
The main difference between this package and the Southern Link is that the new road could be configured in different ways; for instance, be used as a route for priority vehicles such as buses and vehicles with multiple occupants rather than as the main state highway.
Nelson MP Nick Smith has championed for the Southern Link to join the Stoke Bypass for a decade and says it doesn’t matter what it’s called, its Nelson’s only way forward.
“I don’t mind what we call it as long as it is well designed and addresses Nelson’s critical transport issues.”
He says the reasons that it is the “best option” is because it has the least impact by passing the least number of households and schools, is the shortest route and is the safest option.
“The great advantage of the inland route is it enables us to do a really good job of converting Rocks Rd into a boulevard for walking and cycling without 3000 trucks and 16000 other vehicles passing each day.”
The package states it is likely that a 5-metre cycle and walkway along Rocks Rd could occur sooner if the inland route is found to be the preferred way forward.
A Nelson Future Access panel of experts say this option would be less susceptible to climate change than the other packages and would provide extra traffic capacity, but say it would need to address negative impacts similar to those raised in response to the previous Southern Link proposal, including air quality concerns that could be “challenging to mitigate”.
As part of addressing these impacts, a ‘cut and cover’ option could be included which would see the road go underneath the Toi Toi St intersection in a tunnel type scenario.
“The detailed design around things like the cut and cover and how we can make a vibrant Victory Village alongside the highway is the critical design that needs to take place with the community,” says Nick.
Nelson City councillor Matt Lawrey says there is another important aspect Nelsonians need to consider with this option.
“It would more than likely, almost certainly, mean the moving of the state highway. If you move the highway, then the waterfront (Rocks Rd) would become the responsibility of the council and the ratepayers. That is a very expensive piece of road to hold up.”
Waka Kotahi NZTA regional director relationships Jim Harland says it is too early in the process to make decisions around whether the highway would move or not.
“If it was to move, we (NZTA) could do a swap in effect and hand the other road back to local authority, but in some parts of the country we keep both because of a matter of resilience, so that’s something that would be discussed.”
Matt says the new road may provide congestion relief for a while but if you don’t change the way in which people get around the problem just comes back.
“History tells us you can’t build your way out of congestion. We’ve got a fantastic example of that in Nelson, because Whakatu Dr was built to reduce the traffic on Main Rd, Stoke and today the traffic on Main Rd is about the same as it was when they built Whakatu Dr.”
To have your say go to www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/nelson-future-access-project