What is RiverLink?

    The NZ Transport Agency (Transport Agency), Hutt City Council (HCC) and Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) are working collaboratively on a programme to improve the resilience, accessibility, efficiency, and safety of the Melling intersection and the wider transport network. RiverLink involves three separate but interdependent projects: Flood protection (GWRC) Making Places urban development plan (HCC) Melling Intersection Improvements (Transport Agency)

    What problems would be addressed by RiverLink?

    RiverLink aims to address: Flood protection with new stopbanks, a wider channel and by eliminating the channel restriction caused by the Melling Bridge Lifestyle through city centre revitalisation and creating a ‘River City’ identity Transport safety, reliability and transport choice.

    What outcomes and benefits does RiverLink aim to deliver?

    The overall outcomes we’re seeking are a connected, resilient and secure floodplain; an integrated, resilient, safe and efficient transport network; a more liveable Hutt City and enhanced economic growth. The expected benefits will be: Improved connectivity between Hutt City centre and its adjacent transport corridors and the Hutt River. Improved State Highway 2 and local road network reliability, and multi-modal transport choices (e.g. cycling, walking and public transport). Increased flood plain resilience of the Hutt River valley. Improved road safety for customers using State Highway 2 and the local road network. ·  a more vibrant Hutt City.

    How are the NZTA, GWRC and HCC working together?

    The Transport Agency, HCC and GWRC are working collaboratively in order to achieve better flood protection, urban revitalisation and improved transportation.

    The Transport Agency is looking into a range of options for transport improvements and will integrate these with the GWRC’s flood protection project and HCC’s ‘Making places’ project.

    All three organisations need a degree of certainty about when the Melling bridge will be replaced so that complimentary investment activities can be planned coherently and cost-effectively.

    While each partner organisation has its own strategic objectives, we recognise that investment activities need to be coordinated because they’re inter-dependent.  We need to work closely together to achieve our objectives and to meet the needs of local residents, businesses, commuters, road users and visitors in and through the Hutt Valley region. To make this happen, we’ve set up a joint working group to discuss integration and coordination across the whole programme of work.

    How much will RiverLink cost?

    The estimated cost to deliver RiverLink (2020 – 2028) is $220 - $270M excluding the cost of a new interchange.

    What will the different parts of RiverLink cost (flood protection, Making Places and transport improvements)?

    Approximate costs for the three main parts of RiverLink are:

    • Flood Protection: $120M - $140M (including property)
    • Making Places: Promenade and pedestrian/cycling bridge $55M -$65M (including property)
    • a new Melling Bridge and a relocated train station $50M - $60M)

    nb: this does not reflect the proportion or allocation to be paid by each agency

    The Hutt City Council has committed funding in its Long Term Plan (LTP) circa $52M, and the Greater Wellington Regional Council has signalled funding in their draft LTP between 2018 and 2028

    How much will the Melling interchange cost?

    We are in the very early stages of design and considering three potential options. More work is needed to get a better picture of future costs. We expect that the interchange will cost between $50M - $80M and the land needed to build this infrastructure is expected to cost between $20M - $55M. We will continue to refine our cost estimates as we develop our designs. 

    Who will pay for the Melling Bridge?

    It is too early to consider how the costs for a new Melling bridge would be met until further work has been completed. 

    How are these options alike?

    These options all have the following things in common:

    • a diamond grade-separated interchange
    • a new bridge
    • removal of the traffic signals from SH2
    • are safer than the current intersection
    • reduces traffic congestion
    • improves access for walking and cycling
    • requires local road improvements
    • reduces risk of flooding to the city centre
    • requires moving the railway station
    • future proofed for a future extension of the Melling railway line
    • maintains connections to Harbour View, Tirohanga and Pharazyn Streets.

    Why are improvements needed at Melling intersection?

    During peak periods and in the weekend, SH2 at Melling becomes very congested with vehicle queues often exceeding storage capacity. Traffic signals in a 100 km/h environment create a safety and crash risk particularly for vehicles queued to turn right onto Melling Bridge from SH2. The challenge is to keep traffic moving on SH2 in peak times and reduce travel times for commuters and freight, without creating safety concerns or too much delay for people using local roads. The Melling transport improvements aim to: ·  provide safer journeys for all road users and pedestrians ·  provide more efficient and reliable travel in peak periods and on weekends. ·  Improve travel choice including access to cycling and public transport ·  Improve security and availability of the road network. ·  help meet the requirements of the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s flood capacity improvements and work alongside the Hutt City Council’s Making Places initiative.

    What options have been considered for the Melling intersection?

    The RiverLink team explored and rigorously developed 43 options for a new interchange at Melling/SH2. The key factors we considered were: ·  the interchange form (i.e. diamond, roundabout, etc) ·  options for connecting Tirohanga Road and Harbour View Road ·  where to locate the bridge and how it connects to Hutt City ·  impacts to the space for the Hutt River ·  how the interchange would connect to Hutt City.

    What are the options for Melling transport improvements?

    The three options being considered for a new Melling interchange and bridge include: Diamond interchange directly connecting to Queens Drive – this option will: be a direct connection into Queens Drive provide good walking and cycling connections into the city centre promote a more compact city centre. Diamond interchange with an indirect connection to Queens Drive – this option will: be an indirect connection into Queens Drive reduce traffic congestion more than the other options, because of the distance between the intersections allow more local traffic to avoid the interchange, because of the direct connection to Pharazyn. Diamond interchange directly connecting to Melling Link – this option will: be a direct connection into Melling Link provide good walking and cycling connections into Melling reduce the effectiveness of flood prevention work, because the bridge will be at the narrowest part of the river mean major delays as the bridge is built around the existing road network

    Why were some options discarded?

    • At grade improvements were discarded because they would not solve safety, efficiency and flooding problems.
    • Bridge locations south of Queen Street and North of Melling Link were discarded. Bridge locations north of Melling are too far from the CBD and do not provide a gateway to Hutt City. Bridge locations south of Queens Drive put too much traffic into the city centre and create conflicts with pedestrians, cyclists and buses.
    • Roundabouts - While they minimise conflicts for motorised traffic, roundabout options were discarded because they are difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate and it would encroach over the stopbank.
    • Alternate Tirohanga Road connections: Connecting Tirohanga Road via Pharazyn Street was discarded because it is less intuitive for drivers making less safe as people might travel the wrong way down the southbound off-ramp. It also encroaches into the river corridor making it flood risk.
    • The diverging diamond has never been built in New Zealand. This option was discarded due to safety concerns and because there isn’t enough space to build it. Drivers could find it confusing being on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.

    How will Tirohanga Road and Pharazyn Road be connected?

    Tirohanga Road will be realigned to connect into Harbour View Road which will be accessed via the interchange. Block Road will be closed. Pharazyn Street will be accessed via the new bridge and interchange.

    Why do you propose to have traffic signals on the new interchange?

    Our work shows that if we build a roundabout, the traffic leaving the city centre in the evening peak would block the traffic flows coming into the city from Wellington.  The queues would eventually extend back onto the highway which would be create a safety hazard.  Our work has found that traffic signals are needed to manage the uneven flow of traffic through the interchange especially during peak travel times. The traffic lights will be synchronised to optimise the traffic flows. 

    What will happen to the Melling railway station?

    To make space for any new interchange at Melling, the railway station needs to be moved. We wanted to learn the best place to put a new station. Community feedback indicated that a new station opposite the planned new cycling/pedestrian bridge is the preferred location. This location provides better access to the planned waterfront promenade, Queensgate and city centre bus stops.

    How will bus services change to better service Melling railway station?

    We are working with colleagues responsible for planning and procuring bus services to ensure our designs will accommodate all forms of public transport. Future reviews of bus services in the Hutt Valley will consider opportunities to improve the bus network.

    How many park and ride spaces will be provided at a relocated railway station?

    The number of park and ride car park to be provided at a relocated railway station will be informed by the Greater Wellington Regional Council's emerging park and ride strategy. 

    Why are you moving the Melling train station south instead of extending the rail line further north?

    The Melling station needs to be moved and it is proposed to move it south to service the Hutt city centre. All of the interchange/bridge options will preserve the ability to extend the train line further north in the future as this idea is progressed further.

    Why isn’t the Melling line being extended to the north?

    All of the interchange/bridge options preserve the ability to extend the train line further north in the future. However, extending the rail line is outside the scope of the RiverLink project. 

    What are the next steps for Melling intersection improvements?

    Following this engagement period we will work with our RiverLink partners to assess the technical information and the community feedback. We’ll then refine our proposals and recommend a preferred option. 

    The Transport Agency needs to decide:

    • the preferred option
    • the timing of the project
    • how the project could be funded.

    How will the transport improvements be funded?

    The funding hasn’t been agreed and timing for this project is uncertain. Later this year, the Transport Agency will make recommendations to the NZTA board about funding and timing. Having a preferred option will provide some certainty to the Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Hutt City Council and the community about ‘what’ will be developed in the future.

    How will construction impact travel?

    Constructing new public infrastructure is always disruptive, but we work to minimise the impact.  Most of the interchange work can be undertaken without significant road closures.  The bridge options that connect to Queens Drive can also be built without affecting current roads.  However, a new bridge into Melling Link is more difficult and could require some closures of Melling Link while the new bridge is being connected to the east bank.

    How will we use your feedback?

    We will use your feedback, alongside technical information, to select a preferred option to continue on to the detailed design stage. 

    What will happen to the Riverbank Market?

    The market type could be decentralised to two or three sites across the city. A model for this is the Victoria Street Market in Wellington.

    How does the councils’ preferred approach to flood management and urban development affect the Transport Agency’s plans to improve the Melling intersection?

    We’ll continue to work collaboratively with HCC and GWRC on the project while actively considering the upgrade of the Melling intersection with SH2.  Planning an intersection upgrade with an understanding of the flood protection improvements enables a coordinated approach. We’re considering the nature of the bridge and how it connects across the river and what form it might take. The timing of the construction of the bridge will be aligned as closely as possible with timing on the construction of stopbanks and other flood management infrastructure.

    What does GWRC hope to achieve with the Hutt River flood capacity plan?

    The goal is to build flood protection infrastructure along the Hutt River that reflects the community's decision made through the Hutt River Floodplain Management Plan in 2001. More recent flood protection work on the Hutt River has focused on the stretch of the river between Kennedy Good and Ewen bridges. Nine of the 10 flood protection options explored by the three Agencies (GWRC, HCC and NZT) involved replacing the Melling Bridge to provide the recommended standard of flood protection for the Hutt CBD and central residential areas. The current bridge structure is sound and is not near the end of its design life.  There are some issues with traffic flows at peak times and facilities for cyclists are limited.

    What options for flood protection and urban development were publicly consulted on?

    Ten options were identified and evaluated in order to meet the GWRC, HCC and NZTA’s objectives for the city, which include flood protection, public space enhancement and transportation. Two preferred options were selected for public consultation.

    The key elements of both these options included:

    • Upgrading flood protection from Kennedy-Good Bridge to Ewen Bridge to provide the community-agreed standard of flood protection - involving widening of river channel, raising the height of stop-banks, improving floodway capacity at Melling bridge, replacing Melling Bridge and enhancing riverside environment.
    • Linking the city centre to the river by way of a promenade on the new stop-bank, a river park and new residential and commercial development opportunities overlooking the river.
    • Making improvements to ensure local traffic flow and the intersection at Melling Bridge and SH2 work efficiently.

    What engagement has already occurred on this project?

    The following engagement has taken place:

    • Late 2014 – pre-consultation activities
    • Early 2015 – engagement survey from HCC to produce Making Places
    • October 2015 – sought public feedback on options for flood protection: outcome was a preferred option to widen the river to provide long-term resilience in the event of flooding
    • Aug-Sept 2016 – RiverLink design ideas – an opportunity for the community to inform the design
    • October 2016 – Conducted transport user experience interviews to understand issues and desires about using the Melling transport system
    • April 2017 – public engagement/open days to check in with the community about the design work to date and to seek input on where the Melling Bridge and the railway station should be located
    • November 2017 – engaged with rail commuters about the location of a new railway station.

    What are the next steps to progress the flood protection and urban development work?

    We considered your comments from various community events as we’ve progressed the preliminary design for the river corridor. We have confirmed the shape and form of the river corridor to deliver an increased level of flood resilience, an enhanced urban space and improved links in and out of river corridor

    We are ready to start the work needed to prepare resource consent applications for the required consents and then begin construction. Some parts of the project can begin soon under existing GWRC and HCC statutory approvals. For example, the Belmont Stormwater Treatment Wetland will start taking shape later this year.

    How would I cycle between Waterloo and the city centre?

    Hutt City Council has identified Waterloo Road and Knights Road as potential cycling connections between the Beltway and the city centre.  These and other connections to key activity areas are being assessed.

    Cyclists would pass through the city centre and across the new Margaret Street walking and cycling bridge.

    When the stopbank on the Melling side of the river is re-built, a shared walking and cycling path will be provided on top.

    The shared path will eventually connect with the Melling to Petone cycle path which follows the railway all the way to Ngauranga where cyclists would join the Wellington to Ngauranga cycle-path recently upgraded by Wellington City Council.

    These facilities take time to plan and build and it will be some years before every section is in place.