Local MPs back better tunnel ideas

Some months ago the Mt Victoria Residents Association wrote to the NZ Transport Agency proposing that the pilot tunnel drilled alongside the main Mt Victoria road tunnel in the 1970s should be put to use – specifically, that the pilot tunnel should be re-fitted to allow pedestrians and cyclists to use it, thus escaping the noise and fumes in the main Mt Victoria tunnel.

This seems like an eminently sensible idea. The pilot tunnel runs parallel to the main tunnel on the opposite side of Paterson Street, and it would provide a much better experience for pedestrians and cyclists alike if it were made available. Car traffic in the main tunnel would also benefit, as it would allow the existing pedestrian walkway to be removed and the lanes widened. In fact, it’s hard to see a downside. Even the costs seem reasonable, with lighting and ventilation upgrades for the pilot tunnel likely to be a tiny fraction of the $175 million the NZ Transport Agency is currently budgeting for a second road tunnel.

The pilot tunnel runs on the far side of Paterson Street, above the main tunnel, and starts near the clump of trees in the middle of the photo.

Now the local Green MPs (Co-Leader Dr Russel Norman, Gareth Hughes and Sue Kedgley) have thrown their weight behind the idea, and have written to the NZ Transport Agency to express their support. According to their letter to Agency head Geoff Dangerfiled, “Wellingtonians are the highest users of public and active modes of transport in the country and this trend will be enhanced if ideas such as [MVRA committee member] Mr Palmer’s cycle and pedestrian pilot tunnel are embraced.”

So far the NZ Transport Agency has remained silent on what they think of the proposal, other than to decline to answer specific questions under the Official Information Act. This really isn’t good enough, as the changes proposed would be a cheap, effective and welcome improvement to Wellington’s transport network – and surely it’s the job of the Transport Agency to make exactly these kind of upgrades.

Bus tunnel consultation extended to 16 July

Thanks to the efforts of local resident Jane Tolerton and the advocacy of Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon, the cut-off date for consultation on the changes to the Pirie St bus tunnel – which will see not-in-service buses allowed to use the narrow one-way tunnel – has been moved to 5pm on Friday 16 July:


In reply to the request for an extension to the close of submissions on the traffic resolution regarding the Pirie St Bus Tunnel, I propose that the close date be extended to Friday 16 July. This is the latest date we can extend to and still comply with reporting requirements for the Committee meeting in August.

I trust this will assist.

Maria Archer
Acting Director, Infrastructure

This is a welcome development and should give local residents a better opportunity to have a say about the changes proposed by Council officers. It’s the view of many local residents that allowing not-in-service buses to use the tunnel will cause significant additional congestion, further damage the Pirie St road surface, pose an additional danger to local residents, and materially decrease amenity in Mt Victoria.

Local body elections: Mt Victoria candidate meeting dates

Mayoral hopeful Cela Wade-Brown launching her campaign in early July

The local body election season is upon us, with postal voting on who we would like to represent us on the Wellington City Council, the Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Capital Coast DHB due to commence in mid-September.

As usual, the Mt Victoria Residents Association and Mt Cook Mobilised are convening a joint community event for local residents to meet and question the candidates. This year there will be two meetings, both held at the Crossways Community Centre in Roxburgh Street:

Local Ward candidates meeting on Tuesday 14 September at 7:30pm
Mayoral candidates meeting on Thursday 16 September at 7:30pm

Everyone is welcome and refreshments will be provided. If past experience is anything to go by, these will be entertaining evenings with plenty of debate and banter and witty exchanges, so mark your diaries now!

The Dirt Doctor is coming to Mt Victoria

The Dirt Doctor will be presenting sustainable gardening workshops on August 7th, 14th and 21st in a beautiful garden in Mt Victoria. Dirt Doctor is an organisation started by Jim O’Gorman in Kakanui focused on soil rehabilitation and bio-intensive gardening. He runs a one man farm, and has turned the worst soil he could find into some of the most productive in NZ using materials he could gather within walking distance, and working only with hand tools. Our workshops teach Jim’s methods, and provide the knowledge needed to turn any garden into a productive, sustainable system. All local residents are welcome!

These 3 workshops will be followed by a weekend Urban Eden workshop hosted by Jim himself on August 28th/29th.

For bookings and more information, contact Jacob Perkins or Hana Miller, phone 021-766-827 or email jacob@dirtdoctor.co.nz