The lack of detail in Let's Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) has sent politicians into a tizzy this week.

It's all been over what place, if any, private vehicles will have in a second Mt Victoria tunnel for the city.

The issue has resulted in Transport Minister Phil Twyford accusing Wellington-based National list MP Nicola Willis of "making things up".

Meanwhile, regional councillor Daran Ponter says the lack of clarity over the tunnel is an example of why it's too early to have public meetings on the strategy.

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That's a shot fired over to Mayor Justin Lester, who's the one holding these meetings in a bid to build support and consensus for the transport project.

Both the city and regional councils have been quick to pass motions they have not identified a second tunnel as being a bus priority route.

All this is over a tunnel that's at the bottom of the Government's $6.4 billion list for ways to get Wellington moving.

The devil is in the detail

Before the plan was announced, we were warned it would be light on detail, but just how light came as a surprise considering it was years in the making.

Plans for the transport overhaul were so light on detail the Treasury did not support a recommendation for Cabinet to endorse the indicative LGWM package.

This lack of detail could prove to be an ongoing headache for decision makers trying to get things done because the public don't know a lot about what they're being asked to sign up for.

It's important to note there will be detailed business cases made for each project in the package, eventually.

The Let's Get Wellington Moving plan was light on detail when it was released, but just how light came as a surprise. Photo / Supplied
The Let's Get Wellington Moving plan was light on detail when it was released, but just how light came as a surprise. Photo / Supplied

What we do know about a second Mt Victoria tunnel is that it's about improving access to the eastern suburbs.

It's been paired with the widening of Ruahine St and Wellington Rd, leading to an estimated capital cost of $700 million.

We also know it's set down for the second phase of the LGWM project.

That's about it.

Will private vehicles be allowed in a second tunnel?

It's the inability for politicians to say yes or no to this question that's created so much confusion this week.

In a written question to the Transport Minister, National list MP Nicola Willis asked whether a duplicate Mt Victoria Tunnel would be used by cars.

"The priority for the extra Mt Victoria tunnel will be to improve access for buses and dedicated walking and cycling facilities. How that space will be used will be determined by the detailed business case", Phil Twyford replied.

Willis said she was surprised the Minister would not commit to cars being able to use the tunnel.

Wellingtonians have been under the impression they would, she said.

"The Mt Vic tunnel is a major choke point, people trying to get across Wellington know how bad the traffic is, they want more lanes in the tunnel and they want cars to be able to use them", Willis said.

The confusion this week has been over what place, if any, private vehicles will have in a second Mt Victoria tunnel for Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The confusion this week has been over what place, if any, private vehicles will have in a second Mt Victoria tunnel for Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

In a statement, Twyford said the Government was taking a balanced approach to transport rather than investing in only a few "handpicked highways" like the former government.

"Nicola Willis is making things up. No decisions have been made and all of these issues will be worked out by the transport agencies and the local council in due course."

Is it too early for public meetings on LGWM?

Greater Wellington Regional councillor Daran Ponter thinks so.

Mayor Justin Lester is on a mission to garner public support and consensus for LGWM to get the ball rolling.

He's been holding public meetings across the city for people to find out more about the project and ask questions.

But again, the issue with this comes back to a lack of detail.

Many questions simply can't be answered because decisions haven't been made.

The Let's Get Wellington Moving plan was light on detail when it was released, but just how light came as a surprise. Photo / Supplied
The Let's Get Wellington Moving plan was light on detail when it was released, but just how light came as a surprise. Photo / Supplied

The confusion over the second Mt Victoria tunnel was an example of why it was too early to have those meetings, Ponter said.

"Almost in every instance those features of the package need a lot more work and definition to them and if you go out too early on these things there is a very easy ability for people to get the wrong end of the stick."

Ponter said the last thing he wanted was for people to be sold things that were clearly not going to happen.

"I recognise the desire of politicians to want to get out in front of the community and I recognise the desire of the community to want to understand what is happening, but if you don't have sufficient detail you just have to hold off."

But Mayor Justin Lester said one of the biggest failings of the Basin Reserve Flyover project was its inability to take Wellingtonians along through the process.

He said the flyover was also presented as a "fait accompli".

"Let's Get Wellington Moving is very much a collaborative approach, it's balanced and has flexibility to move based on evidence."

Councils quick to set the record straight

On Thursday, Wellington City and Greater Wellington met for previously scheduled meetings.

Both passed a motion noting the second tunnel had not been identified by either council as routes for bus priority.

Mass transit is the big winner in the Let's Get Wellington Moving plan. Photo / Supplied
Mass transit is the big winner in the Let's Get Wellington Moving plan. Photo / Supplied

The motion passed by councils makes clear prioritising improved access for buses in the tunnel is currently a central government position rather than a local government one.

Green councillors Iona Pannett and Sue Kedgley were the only ones who didn't support the motion at their respective councils.

Brian Dawson was the councillor behind the motion at the city council.

He said the uncertainty around the second tunnel was clearly a debate within the Government.

"There's no secret at all that this is largely a debate between the Greens and the Labour Party about where the preferences go and where the money goes.

"I'm sure we'll have similar debates between similar party branded people around the council table, but as yet we haven't done that and as partners in this process we have to have a say in it as well."