Another reason we need Transmission Gully

November 13th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Ben Heather at Stuff reports:

A big quake could leave Wellington reliant on barges and helicopters for survival, new disaster predictions show.

Massive landslides would cut off Porirua, the Hutt Valley and Wellington from the rest of New Zealand and from one another, with inbound roads taking up to four months to clear.

All three areas would rely on barges and helicopters to ferry in food, clean water and vital medical supplies.

The would be no power, water or gas for at least three weeks, and for more than two months in some Wellington suburbs.

Wellington city would be cut off for the longest, with no power for at least two months and no gas for three.

It would take at least 55 days to open State Highway 2 between the Hutt Valley and Wellington, and three weeks to connect the capital and Porirua. …

Regional Emergency Management Group co-ordinator Bruce Pepperell said road access would be the biggest priority. “Parts of the region will be completely cut off from others.”

The stretch of State Highway 1 sandwiched between the coast and cliffs along Centennial Highway would probably be the most difficult to clear.

Another reason why is a very good idea. That if is the Greens don’t manage to kill it off, as they are seeking to do.

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43 Responses to “Another reason we need Transmission Gully”

  1. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    What’s Transmission Gully going to do about access between the Hutt and Wellington David? Shouldn’t you be pushing for the Seatoun-Eastbourne bridge or tunnel? Should there always be a billion spend on alternative routes in the event of disaster?

    And if it takes 3 weeks to reopen the road from Porirua to Wellington, when Transmission Gully actually ends at Linden, why did you waste time and energy writing this?

    Seriously – it demonstrates that decisions on these things shouldn’t be left up to politicians or politicos. Scarce resources need allocation by market signals.

    Transmission Gully is a waste of money – the good it can do can be achieved for 2/3rds the price by upgrading the existing road, but then the current government is rivalling the last mob for being as fiscally incontinent.

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  2. Mighty_Kites (84 comments) says:

    How would Transmission Gully have any effect in reducing the impact of a massive earthquake on the ability of Wellington City to access the northern suburbs, given it is nowhere near the area that will likely be affected by said earthquake?

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  3. hj (7,015 comments) says:

    That seems like a sound reason.
    On another note:
    http://www.businessinsider.com/suburban-america-ponzi-scheme-case-study-2011-10?op=1

    We aren’t given the chance to discuss population given the strangle hold of media elites but the facts about calderas, quakes etc mean that a large population might not be a good idea for NZ.

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  4. James Stephenson (2,179 comments) says:

    Shouldn’t we be expecting further uplift of that part of the coast, widening the corridor down from the Hutt?

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  5. hj (7,015 comments) says:

    Radio NZ’s Myopia program told us we can’t go into the future looking back at the past and yet that is what we are doing we we frame society on the last 100 years of abundant energy. Society needs to be able to hunker down and be self sufficient in the advent of a disaster (ie grow food locally as in a vege garden) but the smart young things don’t remember having a vege garden (let alone an outside toilet).
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/sunday/audio/2538112/insight-for-11-october-2012-auckland-housing.asx

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  6. jims_whare (403 comments) says:

    Gotta wonder under that scenario if National GDP would go up or down during the time that Wellington is isolated.

    Think: 4 months of Parliament not making endless new laws to whack the serfs with – what a change!

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  7. nasska (11,503 comments) says:

    The Transmission Gully route would at least enable the needs of Porirua & the Northern suburbs to be met & depending on the damage to the Haywoods Hill road would provide access to the Hutt. That’s a fairly large benefit.

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  8. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    Keep the Higgins boys busy for a couple of weeks then! :lol:

    Nauranga Gorge and Ngaio Gorge would be blocked so that stuffs Transmission gully.
    Haywards would be stuffed along with the substation.
    Petone beach would rise along with the road corridor along the fault line
    Petone and the Valley would be awash with sand castles. No access to Point Howard oil Terminal so no fuel.
    Pukerua bay to Paekock closed for 3 years.
    Rimutaka’s closed for the next four years.
    Rail north buried under the hill.

    Not many ways out then.

    Reminds me a bit of history. when settlers for Wgtn were plonked on the side of the harbour out past the gorge and spent two days getting to Wellington. all rock and no flat road.

    And you silly buggers still want to live and build in Wellington.

    Still you do need transmission gully road. Needed it for about 70 years which is about when the Yanks would have built it.

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  9. Steve Wrathall (284 comments) says:

    “The stretch of State Highway 1 sandwiched between the coast and cliffs along Centennial Highway would probably be the most difficult to clear.”
    Dump the debris into the sea. Sometimes you just gotta do stuff.

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  10. seanmaitland (500 comments) says:

    it is likely it would be an uplift, due to how the techtonic plates are positioned and because they are moving into each other (if my 7th form geography memory is working…) – but there is a lot of artificially reclaimed land around Wellington that would probably be in a sorry state under a big earthquake.

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  11. nasska (11,503 comments) says:

    V2

    I wonder how long it would actually take to provide some sort of access via Haywards, Ngaranga or even Ngaio if people who knew what they were doing were let loose with a few large dozers.

    That is, without the need for RMA consent, environmental impact reports & iwi bleating about possible burial sites. By the time these moaning bureaucratic pests got hungry enough access could probably provided without mandatory footpaths, cycle lanes, wheelchair ramps & tunnels for little blue penguins.

    It’s amazing what can be done when commonsense prevails.

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  12. flipper (4,062 comments) says:

    Yes….
    I can really, truly, envisage all those red melon train tracks being relaid into new areas. Similarly, all those tunnels will be re-bored,,,, and all the roads (such as thry are) will be repaired to accommodate that silly Mayor’s bicycle. Oh, and by the way, the city will then open up its supply of hand-powered shovels and picks because the earth moving equipment that survives will leave a big CARBON FOOT PRINT.

    As for the fools that still question Transmission Gully. ….. Good luck when youi attempt to swim to the Hutt Valley (if it survives the likely subsidance). I may make it without too much trouble, but lot will not! :)

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  13. flipper (4,062 comments) says:

    Steve Wrath….

    Yes, in theory. But go study the expert geologicaL ENGINEERING studies done by the the Inst of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS).
    It will be much, much worse than the Manawatu Gorge. And that would assume that eatrh-moving equipmernt in Wellington survives (equip could, of course, be brought south).

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  14. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    There can be no doubt that Transmission Gully is a good idea. But that won’t stop the Luddites and NIMBYs from emerging to regurgitate the same old, tired arguments that ‘supported’ their failed campaign to try and prevent this overdue development from happening. But to pick up on DPF’s point:

    In a big earthquake, lines of access in and out of the city will be crucial for to survival. Roads linking both Wellington and the Hutt Valley to the ‘outside’ will need to be available for the transportation of food and water. Ferries are an option, but as the Ferry Terminal is located on top of a fault, ferries may not be a short term solution. Rule out an airlift too – Wellington Airport will most likely be toast as its built on (mainly) reclaimed land susceptible to liquefaction. Rail will be buggered – no doubt. So that only leaves roads.

    SH2 was built pretty much on top of the the fault line running up the western edge of the harbour / the Hutt Valley – all the way to Melling its on land shared with rail lines. The Ngauranga Gorge flyover is built on top of a fault line. Haywards Hill Road also starts from a point on the same fault line. Akatarawa Road also starts near a fault. SH2 to the Rimutuka Hill Road follows the fault north. You’ll get the picture… a big one in Wellington will result in transportation chaos.

    In such an event, lines of access into and out of the City will be crucial and any new route can only be good.

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  15. wf (442 comments) says:

    When I worked at Wellington Hospital in the 70’s and 80’s we had disaster seminars especially referencing the big earthquake that would come some time in the future and split the city off from its neighbors.. After we had practiced crawling through smoke and so forth, we were told what to do when we finally made it to open air.

    There were/are caches of survival supplies dotted about, including such things as shovels and picks, because it was estimated that the CBD and suburbs to the east would be isolated from the rest of the island for at least 3 weeks until some infrastructure could be reformed. Access would be by foot until enough resources could be assembled –

    So it has been known about for at least 40 years. I’m glad I live on the Central Plateau, with only active volcanoes to worry about!

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  16. Lucia Maria (2,428 comments) says:

    LibertyScott,

    Transmission Gully is a waste of money – the good it can do can be achieved for 2/3rds the price by upgrading the existing road, but then the current government is rivalling the last mob for being as fiscally incontinent.

    Were you ever a regular commuter on SH1 when the extra Paramata bridge was put in? It took years. We were living in Sydney when it started and visited a couple of times over a couple of years and it was still going when we moved here in 2003. I don’t remember when it finished, it might have been several years later (it certainly seemed to just go on and on and on) but I do remember the nightmare traffic holdups.

    Upgrading Centennial Highway and Pukerua Bay would be a nightmare in the order of magnitude much, much worse for every single person traveling that road for a hell of a lot longer than the disruption that that relatively small bridge caused.

    What the government might save in upgrading the existing road would be negated by the business cost of thousands of people being held up every day while the thing was built at what most likely would be a snail’s pace given that the road is being used right now, not to mention wasting people’s lives just sitting in traffic. That cost of people’s time needs to be factored in, and somehow I don’t think you’re even considering it.

    Putting in the median barriers on Centennial Highway took long enough, and that was a somewhat minor upgrade.

    Roll on Transmission Gully …

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  17. orewa1 (410 comments) says:

    The core problem is that Wellington, like several other NZ cities, is actually in the wrong place. When this country was settled the sole criteria for deciding location of a city was proximity to a port. The information age, more knowledge about geotechnical issues etc, have changed the rules – if we were looking to decide the location of a capital city or major population centre today, we wouldn’t choose the site where Wellington stands.

    So perhaps the sensible choice is to let Wellington slowly depopulate as a means to minimise the risk? In fact this is already happening – the private sector has largely walked away leaving Wellington with mostly people who work for, or sell to government. This process could be accelerated by gradually decentralising government agencies to regional areas, starting with Kapiti or Horowhenua to reduce dislocation of families but going on to regions with great locations, attrractive climates, and ample scope to expand.

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  18. Manolo (13,770 comments) says:

    That if is the Greens don’t manage to kill it off, as they are seeking to do.

    Guaranteed. The Luddites will kill the project.

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  19. labrator (1,850 comments) says:

    A bigger concern should really be the HVDC lines heading into Haywards, that’d cut power off to the entire North Island from the South. Rolling blackouts in Auckland for sure. Interestingly the substation is earthquake resistant but the pylons have blown over in high wind before…

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  20. flipper (4,062 comments) says:

    Elaycee… Nice post.
    A couple of matters ….

    Hutt Valley…subsidance rather than liquefaction. The whole river valley is likely to sink taking on a recent Venice-like look.

    The airport ? Yes reclaimed. So liquefaction or subsidance highly likely. Also, the city would likely be cut in two at the Kent/Cambridge Tce, Basin Reserve, Adelaide road area, reverting to earlier times.

    A senior and world respected geological engineer at GNS to whom I am closely related, lives on the Kapiti coast. He reckons the area north of McKay’s crossing will remain somewhat habitable. The area south of Paekakariki and the Hutt Valley (and possibly the Wairarapa because of faults running north…. and the Rimutaka Hill road will disappear) will be a virtually uninhabitable dogs breakfact …… SO TO SPEAK.

    Transmission Gully will suffer damage, but it will be engineered to give it a good chance of survival. But without Transmission Gully there would be no possibility of early relief.

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  21. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    There is an assumption in all of this that connecting Wellington back to the rest of NZ is a good and desirable thing to do. Not all would agree with this…………

    I think the lessons from the past are pretty clear. When an earthquake does strike Wellington, the effect will be much different from what everyone thinks its going to be. Whats more (and this is what the residents of Chch have missed) it will offer an opportunity to build for the future and to forget the problem that the city has become. (In Chch they should have just up and moved west and forgotten the centre of the city because the next quake will rip it all down again – the city is built on shit – its an old swamp)
    When Wellington gets its quake it will offer the opportunity to move the government somewhere else (but will the opportunity be grasped). And only a bunch or morons would rebuild the CBD of Wellington anywwhere south of the kapiti coast or south of the Rumatuka’s ( – but will the opportunity be grasped.)

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  22. RRM (9,920 comments) says:

    I’m a fan of Transmission Gully but the maximum credible earthquake is not a major reason.

    An earthquake big enough to bring a landslide from the Paekakariki Hill down on top of the Paekakariki – Pukerua Bay stretch of the Centennial Highway would just as likely bring the half of the Newlands, Broadmeadows and Khandallah hills down onto the Ngauranga Gorge and block the road there.

    Transmission Gully would merely bring traffic from the outside world to that roadblock a little bit faster…

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  23. RRM (9,920 comments) says:

    Manolo (8,151) Says:
    November 13th, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Guaranteed. The Luddites will kill the project.

    it’s a Government project, resource management act processes cannot veto it, and nor can a political minority. (If indeed they are a minority.)

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  24. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    The point is why choose a recession with no end in sight to begin a project 50 years behind it’s time. Curious

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  25. flipper (4,062 comments) says:

    Ahhhh RRM
    If only you knew something about geology. You clearly don’t. :)

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  26. Sam Buchanan (501 comments) says:

    It appears that some people think Transmission Gully is not a road, but some sort of magical apparition that not only allows access between places it doesn’t connect, but also won’t itself be affected by landslides and the like during earthquakes.

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  27. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    @flipper: Agree that the Hutt Valley would have problems of it’s own – IIRC, there is opinion that an earthquake (subsidence) would most likely result in the Hutt River reverting back to it’s original path and that would wipe out entire suburbs. And if the Te Marua reservoir was ruptured, a serious wave of water would be released causing all sorts of damage as it flowed south through Upper Hutt and beyond.

    The risk of earthquake is a price paid by everyone living in the Wellington area. The obvious key is to manage the risk.

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  28. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    I think I’ll buy a big boat.

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  29. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    Lucia Maria – It took forever to build a second Paremata Bridge because the Transmission Gully supporters said it would delay it. Indeed right now the Paremata bottleneck is largely manageable thanks to a relatively low cost upgrade. All that is needed to fix the route is:
    – Pukerua Bay Bypass (land for that was long reserved)
    – Duplication from Pukerua Bay to Mackays (easily the most expensive segment but costing about half the price of the Gully motorway)
    – In the long run, a Mana bypass following the railway line.

    It would not be any more disruptive than the four laning from Plimmerton to Pukerua Bay finished years ago and would save a fortune because it can be done in stages. That’s money available for other projects.

    The small delays involved in a 3 year construction period are nothing compared to saving NZ$250 million over 25 years.

    Labour pissed money up a tree now the Nats are. Politically driven road funding is only marginally better than politically driven rail funding.

    What’s worse of all is David has failed to note that Transmission Gully dumps traffic just south of Porirua – it offers nothing between there and Wellington. Most of all, Transmission Gully with a viaduct over a fault line – is JUST AS VULNERABLE.

    The argument for Transmission Gully on network resilience is nonsense. We don’t built duplicate roads all over the country to provide alternatives in the face of disasters, because alternatives are just as likely to be damaged as the original routes, and because more can be saved by spending money on projects to reduce accidents and congestion daily.

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  30. RRM (9,920 comments) says:

    Go on then flipper. Show us what you know.

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  31. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    libertyscott:

    What’s Transmission Gully going to do about access between the Hutt and Wellington David? Shouldn’t you be pushing for the Seatoun-Eastbourne bridge or tunnel?

    Bwahahaaaaaaa – a tunnel link between Seatoun and Eastbourne? Is your calendar stuck on April 1st?

    What a total WOFTAM.

    Did you attend the same ‘credibility’ course as Penny Not-So?

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  32. greenjacket (465 comments) says:

    “Massive landslides would cut off Porirua, the Hutt Valley and Wellington from the rest of New Zealand and from one another, with inbound roads taking up to four months to clear.”

    That is to say, it would take three and half months for the work to be approved by the Environment Court after claims by assorted Greenies/NIMBYs and iwi, and two weeks of actual work…

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  33. wreck1080 (3,915 comments) says:

    These are also reasons why Wellington should not be the capital city.

    Hamilton should be the capital city. Given it is the safest geologically (according to some expert i was listening a while back commenting on the theoretically best place to build a nuclear reactor ).

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  34. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    wreck1080:

    Hamilton should be the capital city.

    Haha – good one. :D

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  35. Lucia Maria (2,428 comments) says:

    LibertyScott,

    It took forever to build a second Paremata Bridge because the Transmission Gully supporters said it would delay it. Indeed right now the Paremata bottleneck is largely manageable thanks to a relatively low cost upgrade.

    Your first sentence above somewhat bamboozles me. Every time I traveled through Paramata while the second bridge was being built, there were workers and equipment going whole hog. So, it didn’t look like work had stopped for periods of time (though maybe it did, I wasn’t always there to see). Or do you mean that Transmission Gully supporters somehow jinxed it and made it take far longer? My impression of the whole debacle after seeing huge roads just pop up out of nowhere with a minimum of disruption in Sydney was that NZ road planners and builders were incompetent.

    The relatively low cost upgrade was very high cost due to the years of disruption that thousands of people experienced every day. Which is my whole point about continuing to upgrade the road. If you’re just costing the road itself and not people’s time and loss of productivity having to deal with the roadworks, then you’re seriously underestimating the cost.

    It would not be any more disruptive than the four laning from Plimmerton to Pukerua Bay finished years ago and would save a fortune because it can be done in stages. That’s money available for other projects.

    The small delays involved in a 3 year construction period are nothing compared to saving NZ$250 million over 25 years.

    Yeah, right.

    I’m guessing you are including the “Duplication from Pukerua Bay to Mackays”, which I’m assuming is somehow upgrading Centennial Highway? That’s the bit that would fill every commuter here with dread and it would be somewhat unbelievable that it could be done in three years, given the Paramata bridge debacle, that it would not be incredibly disruptive and expensive in wasting people’s time over those three years, if it could be done that quickly.

    I’m so glad that the powers that be have actually decided to do Transmission Gully and not stuff around with upgrading roads that need to be used in the meantime. You’d probably feel the same way if you lived up here and actually had to rely on those same roads.

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  36. wreck1080 (3,915 comments) says:

    One tron to rule them all :)

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  37. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    I’m guessing you are including the “Duplication from Pukerua Bay to Mackays”, which I’m assuming is somehow upgrading Centennial Highway?

    Well they couldn’t find the lanes by moving inland – not without removing the railway lines at the very least. Which sort of points to infill to make some land where there is currently water. That would be great infrastructure planning for a quake!

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  38. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    wreck1080 (2,504) Says:
    November 13th, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    These are also reasons why Wellington should not be the capital city.

    Hamilton should be the capital city. Given it is the safest geologically (according to some expert i was listening a while back commenting on the theoretically best place to build a nuclear reactor ).
    ——————————-

    Yep just like trog land.
    Never find it in the winter for the fog.

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  39. Steve (North Shore) (4,561 comments) says:

    Transmission Gully is not a waste of time and money; talking about Transmission Gully is a waste of time and money.
    Just do it or you will end up like Auckland (can’t get in, can’t get out 7am – 10am and 4pm to 7pm)

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  40. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Every study of Transmission Gully has concluded that it will cost more to build than it can possibly deliver in economic benefits. Yet it continues to be an essential plank in the governments ‘Think Big lite’ approach to the economy. No one has ever come close to making a case for it on the basis of its doubtful utility after a major earthquake.

    Divert half the money to upgrading the existing SH 1 route and buy a couple of big warships instead – at least they will be able to deploy to any earthquake-hit port in NZ.

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  41. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    Holiday Highway

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  42. Steve (North Shore) (4,561 comments) says:

    You are correct Mike, just put a bandaid on Wellington and build some huge roads and motorways in Auckland. State Highway one starts here and goes north and south.
    Auckland has waited far longer than Wellington!
    Oh your satire is noted Mike

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  43. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Oh, Steve, I am serious. All of the capital proposed for invested in the so-called roads of national significance would provide a much better return invested in alternative infrastructure, especially naval vessels or military aircraft.

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