Nelson Labour candidate Rachel Boyack on a stretch of Waimea Rd that could see priority lanes installed as one of the transport options. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Focus on Nelson’s Future Access


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 past three weeks Sara Hollyman has looked into what each of the tabled options will mean for Nelson. 

Priority Lanes Package

COST: $220–250M.

This package looks at adding peak period clearway lanes to SH6 Rocks Rd and Waimea Rd, Rutherford St between the Annesbrook and Haven Rd roundabouts for priority traffic.

It aims to further improve public transport, and encourage walking and cycling trips with the goal of reducing the number of single-occupant vehicles using the two main arterial routes.

Nelson Future Access Project experts say this package gives flexibility for the future because the lanes could be used for certain vehicles at certain times.

For example, the Rocks Rd priority lanes might allow freight, whereas the Waimea/Rutherford priority lanes might only be allocated to buses and multiple occupant vehicles. Over time, as demand changes, the vehicle mix could also be modified.

They also say it would have a significantly positive impact on the outcomes of moving people and freight and making Nelson more accessible.

There would be impact on some properties along the routes, where a metre or so of frontage may be needed. Parking would only be available in off-peak times.

Nelson Labour candidate Rachel Boyack says these lanes is her preferred option because it prioritises vehicles carrying multiple people and it best protects the airshed along Waimea Rd.

“I’ve always said we need to do something different to limit the congestion but it’s not one silver bullet, it’s a series of things that need to be done together.”

She says, making it easier and encouraging people to share cars, bike, and use public transport is great, but it’s important not to demonise people who drive cars.

“Not everybody has to do that, some people will still need to use their car and that’s ok, this is about giving choice. The goal is to get less vehicles on the road.

“What I really like about the priority lanes is that it says, ‘yes, at peak times we need to enhance the capacity, but we are going to prioritise the vehicles that are carrying more people or that are there for a genuine need’.”

Nelson MP Nick Smith says the clearway option will be “hugely disruptive” for around 800 households.

“Clearways have proved in areas like the Wellington coast not to work.”

Rachel says, living on Waimea Rd, she experiences first-hand the frustrations that come with the congestion.

“I can’t turn right onto Waimea Rd very often. I appreciate why people are frustrated. I’ve made peace with turning left and even though that can add another five minutes to my day it’s still only a 10-minute trip into town. The congestion is certainly frustrating for people coming from further out, I absolutely accept that, and it’s getting worse.”

She says the issue she has always had with putting another road through the middle of Nelson is that it is a well-known airshed, which means fumes get trapped.

“The Environment Court, DHB, and a whole lot of other people have said ‘actually, that would be incredibly damaging to the people who live in that area’.”

Rachel accepts that, for people who live on those streets, at peak times there will be increased traffic but there is never going to be a perfect solution for everyone.

“You can’t please everybody and if you try, you’re not going to get it right. It’s not that I’m anti-roads, there are times when you need new roads, but in this instance, I always come back to the fact that this is an airshed, there’s an environmental, but most importantly there’s a health impact.

Have your say at by July 24.