Let’s Get Wellington Moving grinds to a halt

Getting the traffic moving in Wellington is a major challenge (RNZ Photo by Rob Dixon)

RNZ, Wellington, December 17, 2023

Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) will be dissolved, with Ministers and local government announcing today (December 17) that they had agreed to end the initiative.

In a joint statement, Infrastructure and Housing Minister Chris Bishop, Transport Minister Simeon Brown, Wellington City Mayor Tory Whanau, and Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair Daran Ponter said that an agreement to dissolve LGWM had been reached.

Mayor Whanau said that local, regional and central governments were now in agreement about the way forward for Wellington.

Constructive Engagement

“It is important to me that we work constructively with the new government to deliver the infrastructure that Wellington desperately needs. It is good to have a clear sense of direction from the government and commitment to investing in the infrastructure for our growing population,” she said.

LGWM was a joint initiative between the Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and the New Zealand Transport Agency to make investments in mass rapid transit, walking and cycling, public transport and state highway improvements in central Wellington.

The new government’s pledge to withdraw the central government from LGWM was high on the list when Prime Minister Christopher Luxon unveiled his 100-day plan last month.

Mr Brown yesterday pulled the brakes on dozens of council projects designed to encourage cycling, walking and use of public transport across the country, sparking confusion in local authority ranks and fury amongst cycling advocates.

Central Government to fund upgrades

It was also confirmed today that the central government will build and fund the Basin Reserve upgrade and second Mt Victoria tunnel; while the City Council will bring the Golden Mile project in-house.

The Local Government would have been responsible for 40% of the investment in the Basin upgrade and the new tunnel’s construction costs under the previous scheme.

Mr Bishop said that Wellingtonians were “sick of all the backwards and forwards on the second Mt Vic tunnel.”

Refreshers
Let’s Get Wellington Moving suffers roadblocks
Let’s Get Wellington Moving not moving fast enough-Minister

“The Tunnel will create exciting opportunities for more urban development and housing, and the government will work with Wellington City Council to explore these opportunities,” he said.

Mr Brown said that the Golden Mile project needed to ensure efficiencies and that the design met everyone’s needs, including better bus routes and pedestrian access.

Mr Bishop said there was general agreement among Wellington’s “decision-makers” that the LGWM initiative had not worked for the City.

“It has been enormously bureaucratic. It has spent a lot of money without a lot of delivery and critically, there has been a real loss of public confidence in the project,” he said.

“Our leaders should focus on what is achievable, not what they desire” (Wellington Council Photo)

Councillor dissents

But Wellington City Councillor Iona Pannett said that cutting the LGWM plan was a backwards step for the region.

“Wellingtonians had supported a sustainable transport system that was not car-centric. Now what we have with a National government is a car-dominated transport system, which is bad for the climate and bad for people’s health. What we need is a transport system that prioritises pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users, and protects the local environment and houses people, not saves a few minutes for motorists,” she said.

Mayor Whanau told RNZ that she was pleased that they were able to reach a solution with the central government.

“I very much believed in the outcomes of the Let’s Get Wellington Moving, because it meant lowering emissions, urban development, more housing and all of that good stuff – creating a future-focused city. However, I have accepted that’s not what the government’s priorities are but I know that we can find some middle ground and work together. I believe that with this announcement we have done that because, with the retention of the Golden Mile, a commitment to urban development around the tunnel and they get what they want by putting in that tunnel as well as dissolving Let’s Get Wellington Moving,” she said.

The above Report and picture have been published under a special agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

 

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