LGWM finally moving: Private vehicles and car parks to be removed from Wellington’s Golden Mile

Wellington Mayor Andy Foster has made a big call, he says Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) is now moving and people can expect an “avalanche” of projects in the coming months.

This afternoon partners of the $6.4 billion transport plan announced they’ve landed on a preferred option for the Golden Mile, which will remove private vehicles and prioritise pedestrians.

The announcement is a significant milestone for the beleaguered project which is behind schedule, over budget, and in the process of undergoing a significant rethink.

Changes will affect the stretch of the city that encompasses Lambton Quay, Willis St, Manners St and Courtenay Place.

Car parks will also be removed and side streets will be closed off where they intersect with the Golden Mile.

The exceptions being Taranaki St, Tory St, and Victoria St as they are considered important access streets.

Buses will have a route via a single lane going in either direction.

There are opportunities to expand Midland Park and make the city look and feel safer.

The business case for the project will now be finalised ahead of a year of detailed design work.

Spades are expected to hit the ground in late 2022 and construction is expected to take two years.

LGWM is a partnership between Waka Kotahi, the Wellington City Council and the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Foster acknowledged people have been wondering what’s actually happening with the transport project, and that there has been a loss of confidence.

But he said Let’s Get Wellington Moving is now moving

“I think you will see now an avalanche of substantial projects coming in front of our community over the next few months, it’s not going to stop with the Golden Mile.”

LGWM Governance Reference Group chairman Daran Ponter said there would be announcements shortly on changes to Thorndon Quay, Cobham Drive, followed by business cases relating to a second Mt Victoria tunnel and mass rapid transit.

“That malaise, if you like, that the programme was in, that pretty much has been put to bed and we’re now starting to pump things out the other end.”

Some businesses have expressed strong opposition to the Golden Mile plan, particularly after many have taken a financial hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ponter acknowledged there was a degree of anxiety in the retail sector.

“We’re all about progress, we can see change and they don’t know what that looks like necessarily, so we’re just going to have to keep on chipping away to get their confidence in the project.”

The 12 months needed for detailed design work would also provide local businesses the opportunity to be involved in shaping the changes, officials said.

Ponter said the project team was looking at access for commercial and delivery vehicles, loading bays, taxi stands, and setting back bus stops where possible on the Golden Mile.

Findings from surveys undertaken as part of the project’s analysis showed only 22 per cent of people arrived at the Golden Mile by car and just 3 per cent of those people actually parked there too.

The majority of people arrived by walking, cycling, scooter, or public transport.

Retail spend sharing analysis showed 67 per cent of retail spend came from those who had caught the train, bus, walked, cycled, or scootered to the Golden Mile.

The wider project is facing escalating costs, with Treasury warning it will cost significantly more than first thought and may not be delivered in full.

The cost of the changes to the Golden Mile is estimated to be between $52 and 79 million.

Three-year programme director Siobhan Procter said until detailed design work has been completed and the construction resource procured, there was always going to be uncertainty about the final cost.

“It depends on the state of the construction market. We know it’s constrained at the moment. That can potentially have an influence on costs.

“In terms of confidence, we’re as confident as we can be at this stage of the process.”

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