Transmission Gully gets the green light

June 22nd, 2012 at 2:31 pm by David Farrar

Gerry Brownlee announced:

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has welcomed today’s green-lighting of the project, saying the project is an exciting and important milestone not only for the Wellington region but also for New Zealand’s national state highway network.

“An alternative state highway route into the capital through Transmission Gully has been talked about for decades, and the Board of Inquiry’s final decision to approve the regulatory consent applications will allow the NZ Transport Agency to take the project to the next stage,” Mr Brownlee says.

“The Wellington region has been waiting for this day since early last century when the project was first floated, so I’m thrilled to hear a route through Transmission Gully is now set to become a reality.”

Wellington is currently reliant on a two-lane highway that has trouble coping in peak times, and is vulnerable to closure in the event of crashes and natural disasters.

“Our capital city deserves better if it’s to reach its full economic potential, and the Transmission Gully route will help to unlock that potential.

“The new highway will not only provide a safer, more secure strategic route into and out of Wellington, it will also dramatically improve travel times between the Kapiti Coast and Wellington as well as providing a more direct link to State Highway 58, the Hutt Valley and Porirua.”

Mr Brownlee noted that Wellington’s population was expected to increase by around 65,000 between 2010 and 2030, largely on the Kapiti Coast and Wellington City.

This is great news. After decades of talk and no action, it is finally going to become a reality. Construction is scheduled to start in 2015, so the only thing that may stop it is a change of Government.

The Board of Inquiry report is here. There are 127 pages of conditions, to mitigate environmental and other impacts.

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39 Responses to “Transmission Gully gets the green light”

  1. onthenumber8 (20 comments) says:

    This would have to be one of the only RONS with actual significance. Now they just need an express train service direct Wellington to Paraparmumu along the same route and greater Wellington’s transport network will start to look pretty damn good.

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  2. TheContrarian (1,073 comments) says:

    About damned time!

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  3. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    Will anyone be able to afford to drive by then . Not to mention tolls.

    Not to mention every time the oil companies drop prices the govt adds another fuel tax.

    Absolute white elephant

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  4. RRM (9,414 comments) says:

    Awesome!

    The only “green light” I would have any faith in however is the awarding of the construction contract.

    Until that happens it is still only a proposed highway

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  5. hmmokrightitis (1,506 comments) says:

    Love how morons assume that petroleum based products will still be powering cars in 50 years time. Yes, you, moron.

    Thank god, long overdue.

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  6. Roflcopter (420 comments) says:

    $$$$$$$ There’s my house price going up!

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  7. sthn.jeff (100 comments) says:

    Great to see such progress, but like RRM, until such time as a contract is awarded and the first sod turned, still a bit skeptical.. At least it will give the Child MP Gareth something to express outrage at and demand an enquiry into. Astounding to think there has been no significant investment in the Capitals roading infrastructure since the 70′s.

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  8. Griff (6,690 comments) says:

    So when do Auckland and points north get the Puhoi to Wellsford SH1 upgrade. Auckland’s so called holiday highway

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  9. coge (176 comments) says:

    This is fantastic news for residents of the greater Wellington area, & indeed all NZers who travel through the area. Not to mention the transport of goods & services. To the naysayers, please bear in mind roads have been used for many hundreds of years, well before the invention of motor vehicles. Many of the best roads in Europe were built by the Romans. Whatever you believe will happen in the future, the roads will always be used.

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  10. Lucia Maria (2,201 comments) says:

    Agree with RRM.

    When I heard it was going to start on the radio, I had to restrain any excitement. And yes, for good reason. It’s going to start in …. 2015. Plenty of time for it to get deferred again, or even cancelled.

    So at this point, it’s still all talk and no action.

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  11. Lucia Maria (2,201 comments) says:

    Here’s an old post from December 2009 where you said Transmission Gully is a go

    The post starts:

    Finally after 60 years of dithering, we have a final decision to proceed with Transmission Gully. Steven Joyce says:

    Once complete, the upgraded route from Wellington Airport to Levin is expected to deliver travel time savings of between 23 and 33 minutes during peak times and between 17 and 23 minutes during the day.

    Following the 2008 election the Minister said he was not prepared to support funding for the proposal until he had seen a thorough assessment of Transmission Gully alongside the alternative Coastal Route.

    Mr Joyce says Transmission Gully has been debated for decades but this is the first time a decision has come with the plan and the funding track to see it through.

    This whole thing is proceeding at a painful snail’s pace.

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  12. tempest (29 comments) says:

    Construction really needs to start in 2014 at the latest, before the election. I’m not sure why we can’t get this out to tender ASAP and award it before the end of 2012, with construction starting in early 2013. If the worst happens and we get a Labour-Greens coalition in 2014, say with Julie Anne Genter as transport minister, the whole RONS programme will probably be cancelled. We need to get a contract signed and sods turning prior to the election, preferably with hefty penalty clauses if a future government wants to play with their train set instead.

    Same goes for the Puhoi-Wellsford motorway and the rest of the Waikato Expressway.

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  13. hmmokrightitis (1,506 comments) says:

    2015 might be a smart move actually – might force it to becoming an election issue…

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  14. Joel Rowan (99 comments) says:

    I expect it will cost the Greens heaps of votes in Wellington, if it does become an election issue. And if Labour opposes it (or seems willing to let the Greens veto it)… well I’d expect Hekia Parata to win Mana.

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  15. Daigotsu (450 comments) says:

    What RRM said

    Transmission Gully has been “approved” numerous times, until work starts in earnest, I’m sceptical.

    I remember Peter Dunne announcing it in 2002.

    [DPF: All previous announcements were I agree fairly meaningless. Just we may do this one day. The 2009 announcement was different as it was an actual funding announcement. This decision is also very significant as it is an actual consent for a specific route and proposal.]

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  16. RRM (9,414 comments) says:

    Wikiriwhis – the only toll roads I’ve driven on have been NZ ones. (Puhoi – Wellsford toll road, and Tauranga harbour Bridge)

    Both were so totally worth paying the $2 or whatever it was. Bring on the toll roads!

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  17. cows4me (248 comments) says:

    I bet the regional councils are rubbing their hands along with the local iwi, the local Taniwha and the plethora of other parasites that make up those that need their palms greased. How many billions for this bit of road, I can see it now, $2.50 for the important people and .50c for the road. Why are large infrastructure projects in NZ so expensive when our labour rates are apparently so low ?.

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  18. RRM (9,414 comments) says:

    There won’t be many cows getting driven up transmission gully dude. take it easy.

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  19. Simon Arnold (98 comments) says:

    The link leads to a page where you find the final report etc is password protected – can you share your user name & password David?

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  20. Manolo (13,297 comments) says:

    Think of it: ever new new development project takes about three decades (if not a century) in NZ.
    Add to that the Luddites opposition and you have a recipe for Third World status.

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  21. wiseowl (751 comments) says:

    Tempest obviously has an interest in this.
    The Board of Enquiry is just a way for any Government to dictate outcomes they desire.

    (I am not for/against the gully route) just wary of this new way to push through anything that the powers that be want to.

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  22. burt (7,785 comments) says:

    Construction is scheduled to start in 2015,

    Hey wow what a surprise, it’s going to start after the next election….

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  23. burt (7,785 comments) says:

    wiseowl

    You’re not very wise if you think this is a “new” way to push through anything that the powers that be want to.

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  24. mikenmild (10,595 comments) says:

    Has there been any new BCR provided for this project?

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  25. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    Yeah, not as many people getting killed on the coast death track. Is that good enough for you Mikie?

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  26. libertyscott (356 comments) says:

    What happened to wanting road projects to have positive BCRs David?

    Transmission Gully doesn’t even reach 1, or is only when the other lot are in power that it’s time to damn wasted money? You can’t argue against the ridiculous rail schemes of the Greens when you support these bloated road schemes.

    It remains roughly 30% more expensive to do this compared to upgrading the existing route, which only needs a bypass at Pukerua Bay and some widening from there to Mackays to be more than adequate. The only argument in favour of it was that it wouldn’t mean buying off a few NIMBYs at Paekakariki, confronting defenders of the rocky foreshore along the coast. Yet it will cost easily $250-300 million more – or rather, the cost of doing the Basin Reserve-Mt Victoria Tunnel-Ruahine St-Wellington Rd upgrade, but who cares? It’s POLITICS and POLITICIANS always know best how to allocate resources and win votes by conceding to lobbyists whose main interest is increasing the value of their properties in Kapiti and along Mana Esplanade.

    I remember when Maurice Williamson and the last real National government actually proudly stated that it didn’t interfere in the decisions of Transfund when it chose how best to allocate revenue from motoring taxes based on economic efficiency.

    The congestion arguments at Mana largely evaporated when it was widened for $15 million, the Pukerua Bay bottleneck would take around $90 million to fix and Paekakariki’s nasty little intersection would take a bit over $100 million to trench and grade separate. Then it’s about $300 million to widen the coastal stretch (which hasn’t been killing people since a few million was spent on a median barrier). In the long run a big bypass of Plimmerton and Mana can be considered, but it’s far from necessary now.

    It’s notable that Labour took BCR calculations out of the National Land Transport Programme and the Nats have decided that’s really convenient. So there is no longer a principled basis to resist the Greens’ whacky ideas about rail based on wasting money – when you waste money on grandiose excessive road projects that could never be funded from tolls or the fuel tax/RUC paid on a per km basis by the expected users.

    Oh and while Wellington City continues to engage in its absurd smartgrowth anti-sprawl planning framework, this will open up Kapiti and beyond for an even faster growing commuter belt.

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  27. mikenmild (10,595 comments) says:

    expat
    Doesn’t the expected cost of lives saved form part of the BCR calculation?

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  28. cha (3,779 comments) says:

    I’d be interested to know if this gully road is likely to have any Manawatu gorge type problems.

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  29. swan (657 comments) says:

    +1 to libertyscott. DPFs and the National Parties hypocrisy on this seriously erodes their credibility.

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  30. MD (62 comments) says:

    For those of you interested in the actual report, the link on the EPA’s page is incorrect.

    The following link seems to work:
    http://www.epa.govt.nz/Publications/TGP%20Final%20Decision%20-%20Vol%201%20Report%20and%20decision%20-%2012%20June%202012.pdf

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  31. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    Pg 5 – Mikie.

    Safety
    − Although some improvements have been achieved in recent years
    along the existing SH1 route, the ability to achieve further reductions
    in the frequency and severity of crashes is constrained by the
    geometry of the route. Similarly, high traffic volumes using the
    inappropriate routes (above) results in a poor crash record.
    − The Transmission Gully Project will be constructed to appropriate
    design standards, with limited access, continuous overtaking
    opportunities and grade-separated intersections. As a result, the
    frequency of crashes will be significantly reduced. Furthermore, the
    diversion of traffic away from roads with poor geometric standards will
    provide benefits in terms of a reduction in the overall number of
    crashes.

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  32. Joseph Carpenter (210 comments) says:

    Liberty Scott is talking complete crap. Read the report and earlier reports. The probability of getting resource consent under the RMA for removing the foreshore and infilling into the sea along centennial highway and building new 4-lane highways through non-designated existing residential areas were less than ZERO, absolutely no effing chance, not just twenty year delays – never. And widening the coastal stretch for just $300 million – WTF, absolutely delusional you ignorant fool, let alone the issues with 110,000 heavy truck loads of fill over five years having to go thru the built-up area bottlenecks at each end, it would be the single biggest civil earthworks in NZ history – 3x the size of Transmission Gully and every single cubic metre would have to be brought in from offsite.

    And while true that the median barrier, removing passing lanes and 70/80kph speed restrictions have reduced fatalities lets not forget it was closed for 92 hours in 2010 due to accidents, slips, flooding and maintenance – thats right State Highway-1, the main national highway, the main freight route between the islands, the main Kapiti Coast commuter route, the only route to the entire Wellington region (over the Rimutakas to the Wairarapas or the Akatarawa track just aren’t viable) is out of action for nearly four days per year because the road is closed. Would you accept 95% of all traffic in and out of Auckland being closed for 4 days? Or all business reliant on that transport shutting down for 4 days, of course not.

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  33. swan (657 comments) says:

    Joseph Carpenter,

    Actually you are right in that at the present time the coastal route doesnt stack up either base on the governments costings. So do you agree that neither should go ahead?

    If you think Transmission gully should, what part of the BCR evaluation methodology do you disagree with specifically? Transmission gully has a BCR of 0.6. Or do you think spending a dollar for 60c in benefits is a good idea? If so, feel free to write me a cheque, and I’ll give you 70c in the dollar back! Or is it only OK when it is someone else’s cheque book?

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  34. swan (657 comments) says:

    Oh, and 110,000 truck loads would not be the biggest civil earthworks project in NZ’s history. You are dead wrong there. ALPURT B2 was almost 4m cubes of earthworks.

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  35. Joseph Carpenter (210 comments) says:

    Swan, Transmission Gully is 6meg cubes, coastal route is 11m, sorry I missed a zero it should be 1,100,000 truckloads – ten times worse or 550,000 truck & trailers. Virtually all Trans Gully is cut and fill through greenfields rural areas with minimal disruption, virtually all coastal route is imported fill and heavies for the seawall revetments through existing urban areas/routes. BCR’s are crap, by the way the current official BCR = 0.82 not the old 0.6 (this is 2012 not 2009, which illustrates my point), for an example the C’s don’t include the cost of missing ferry sailings – insane, and lets not even go near the ludicrous green/gold plating going on. I see you don’t comment on the impossibility of getting resource consents for alternate routes? Or the very lack of an alternative? Because these are unanswerable.

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  36. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    “Love how morons assume that petroleum based products will still be powering cars in 50 years time. Yes, you, moron.”

    We still got National and Liarbour after 60 yrs

    tolls won’t go away, that’s 4 sure

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  37. swan (657 comments) says:

    Joseph Carpenter, it’s not about an alternative, its about whether or not the project stands on it’s merits. At 0.6, or 0.8 or whatever the answer is it doesn’t. (and btw it’s clear the government has been applying political pressure to get the “right” BCR for it’s RONs).

    You can’t on the one hand say that because of the RMA we can’t have a coastal route, while at the same time say that the additional cost of transmission gully because of the RMA doesn’t matter.

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  38. libertyscott (356 comments) says:

    Joseph – I’ve read reports written when there was a completely neutral political view of the options, these were commissioned around eight years ago.

    The RMA, of course, is being streamlined by this government for its pet think big projects, so don’t think it can’t be done. After all the Waterview connection of SH20 in Auckland is being built on undesignated land through a suburb, so don’t be calling what I say complete crap.

    Let’s look at the problems:
    - Mana/Plimmerton: No serious issues, the 4 laning some years ago largely resolved this. Perfectly feasible to throw a Mana Bypass on the western side of the railway line and grade separate through Plimmerton. Yes people will moan, but the cost wont outdo about $200 million.
    - Plimmerton-Pukerua Bay: Fine
    - Pukerua Bay: There was long a designated route to bypass this, and some houses have been built on it. Fine, redesignate it, offer good prices for the land and build it. It was last priced at around $70 million, let’s say $100 million given the bloated expenditure on roads at the moment inflating prices.
    - Pukerua Bay-Paekakariki: No serious issues, but in due course it can be duplicated.
    - Paekakariki: Grade separation underneath the intersection would address this, at considerable cost, but with relatively little interference with most of the village.

    Transmission Gully is longer and wider than all of that, and requires a lot of earthwork, so don’t be moaning about that.

    This “resilience” thing is a laugh, because it implies that Wellington is desperately dependent on a road to Kapiti, when it is a port city, with a major domestic hub airport, with a second state highway and two railway lines into it. If there is ever a huge earthquake, the main hospital is just to the south of the CBD – and it is just as likely Transmission Gully (built on a fault line) would be unusable, compared to a widened coastal route.

    The bottom line is that the users aren’t prepared to pay for the benefits this grand motorway will bring, and the money is better spent elsewhere. The proposed toll on the current route would pay for 15% of the cost – which kind of says it all really. Contrast that to Auckland Harbour Bridge which paid for itself, as did Tauranga Harbour Bridge (and even the “Northern Gateway Road” (Orewa bypass) will pay half of its costs from tolls. Why should motorists across the country subsidise fast commutes from the Kapiti Coast and building “resilience” into a network which other cities are not entitled to have (e.g. Dunedin has one main highway north, Christchurch has one highway to its Port).

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  39. mikenmild (10,595 comments) says:

    All sound stuff, libertyscott, but don’t expect too much traction. The whole ‘roads of national significance’ thing is a crock of manure.
    The proposal to upgrade the existing SH1 route is eminently sensible, affordable and can be achieved in stages. After all this time, I’m still unsure why the Transmission Gully folks developed into such a zealous bunch.

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