Nelson has a key choice this election on transport. The Labour candidate backs Clearways along Tahunanui Drive/Rocks Road/Wakefield Quay and Waimea Rd. I back getting on and building the Nelson Inland Route and redeveloping Rocks Rd as a boulevard for walking, cycling and recreation.
Nelson has a much clearer choice than in Election 2017. National in Government committed then to building and funding the Inland route, then called the Southern Link. Labour opposed it but did not offer an alternative. They have now nailed their flag to Clearways. These are additional lanes that can be used for parking during non-peak times but cleared during peak traffic.
Labour’s plan to add clearways would be awful for Nelson’s stunning waterfront. We have one of the most beautiful city coastlines in the world from Tahunanui Beach to the City enhanced by Fifeshire Rock, Haulashore Island and the historic wall and chained bollards. We had a taste of how good the waterfront could be without heavy traffic for cycling, running and walking during the Autumn Covid lockdown. The four lane clearway means losing this forever.
The Clearways would also ruin waterfront facilities and businesses like the Boathouse, Nahm, The Boatshed, Harbour Light Bistro and Styx Café. They are also awful for the 483 homes and 158 businesses on Tahunanui Drive, Waimea Road and Wakefield Quay. Many would have frontage taken off them as well as the loss of parking. This compares to 66 affected homes and 48 businesses on the Nelson Inland Route. Clearways also impact on more schools.
Clearways have been shown not to work. We had a clearway in front of the Tahunanui shops but it had to be removed. Driver confusion and cars left parked made it too dangerous. We also need to learn from the experience on SH1 North of Wellington. Labour opposed Transmission Gully in 2002 and instead built clearways through Plimmerton. It did not work with many accidents and a huge cost each year in moving vehicles left parked at the wrong times. Wellington has now got on and built the $1 billion inland route of Transmission Gully to be opened next year.
The Nelson Inland Route is a far better solution than clearways. It enables the coastal route to be redeveloped as a boulevard for walking, cycling and recreation. It will cost $80 million less than clearways. It’s more resilient to climate change. It will be transformational for the Tahunanui community. It impacts on far fewer properties. It will require careful design through the Victory area to ensure we retain a cycleway and enhance this strong community.
National gets roads built. We have previously done the Richmond Deviation, QEII Drive, the Stoke Bypass, the Hope Saddle and when last in Government, the Ruby Bay Bypass. We must keep up these investments to match our growing population.
National’s announcement on Monday committing $210 million for the Rocks Road Boulevard and Nelson Inland Route gives Nelson a positive choice to save our beautiful waterfront and solve the major transport problems into our city.