Wellington crash commuter chaos adds urgency to unclogging capital's roads

A fatal crash that caused commuter chaos in Wellington this morning has added urgency to moves to unclog the capital's roads. 

Transport officials and local councils are investigating ways to make sure Wellington's roads can cope better with unexpected incidents.

The early morning crash at the southern end of the Terrace Tunnel left one person dead and rush hour traffic gridlocked.

Just before 8am the southern end of the tunnel was closed, a main congestion point into the CBD.

Wellington road policing manager Inspector Jan Simpson says the serious crash unit attended to investigate the accident.

"As a result of that we needed to close the road, close the tunnel. So the traffic was diverted which caused quite a lot of delays until it was reopened about one o'clock."

Mark Owen of the New Zealand Transport Agency says the closure "just points to the criticality of these key arterial routes, and access in and out of the city. And obviously while there were some alternative routes, they do struggle sometimes with the volume of traffic, particularly at those busy peak hours in the morning". 

That's something the region's two councils and the NZTA are looking into.

There are very few corridors - Barry Mein of Let's Get Wellington Moving

"Let's Get Wellington Moving" is a project to shore up Wellington's transport system and vulnerability to disruption, such as this morning.

"One of the things with Wellington is the network is quite constrained. There are very few corridors. And so the problem is how we deal with that," said Barry Mein of Let's Get Wellington Moving.

It looked at a number of options. One scenario comprises public transport lanes, improving walking on key routes, and creating connected cycleways.

Another includes a second Mount Victoria Tunnel with new walking and cycle access.

The most costly and most popular scenario includes a second Terrace Tunnel.

"It was the option that I think most of the feedback supported. But there were a number of people who didn't agree with putting so many roads in, including the Terrace Tunnel. So yes, we are working through exactly what we do," Mr Mein said.

It's predicted that by 2043, there will be 46,000 more people living in Wellington City.

Let's Get Wellington Moving says it's vital to get a plan in place to cope.

That plan for the future of the city's roading, and where the money cash will come from, are expected in the coming months.

A fatal crash caused commuter chaos in the capital today. Source: 1 NEWS