$15,000 for 56 lizards

July 16th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

About $15,000 has been spent on swanky new digs for 56 lizards whose homes happened to be in the path of the Transmission Gully motorway.

Major earthworks are just months away from starting on the four-lane, 27-kilometre inland motorway between Porirua and Paekakariki, north of Wellington.

But before the diggers can rip in, the business consortium building the $850 million road has had to figure out what to do with the native reptiles and worms who call Transmission Gully home.

So we spent $15,000 on moving 56 geckos?

If the geckos were a unique species, and their loss would reduce our biodiversity, then moving them is desirable.

But if they were just 56 geckos out of several million we have in NZ, then isn’t this over the top?

All the species were considered “at-risk” but not endangered, he said.

What does at risk mean? The categories in NZ in order are:

  1. Acutely Threatened – Nationally Critical
  2. Acutely Threatened – Nationally Endangered
  3. Acutely Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable
  4. Chronically Threatened – Serious Decline
  5. Chronically Threatened – Gradual Decline
  6. At Risk – Range Restricted
  7. At Risk – Sparse
  8. Not Threatened

As I said it is a no brainer you move species when they are acutely threatened. Subject to cost also desirable for chronically threatened. But merely being at risk, I don’t think $15,000 on 57 geckos is a good use of money.

How Transmission Gully would have made a difference

May 23rd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

The Transmission Gully motorway could have provided a lifeline to almost 23,000 motorists stuck in gridlock during Wellington’s flooding.

Traffic modelling by the New Zealand Transport Agency suggests the planned inland motorway between Porirua and Paekakariki – scheduled to open in 2020 – would have significantly altered the civil defence emergency experienced across the region on Thursday.

With State Highway 1 closed by a landslip on the coast road between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki, and SH2 at Petone submerged by floodwaters, about 30,000 people found themselves stranded in the capital. …

Even without natural disasters, Transmission Gully is expected to make a massive difference to traffic flows, reducing the number of vehicles using the coastal SH1 route to just 3090 – a drop of 86 per cent.

Raewyn Bleakley, the transport agency’s central region director, said the contract for the motorway, which is being built by a private consortium, sets out high standards for resilience to earthquakes, landslips and crashes.

The four-lane Gully route would be far more likely to stay open during a landslip than the existing two-lane coastal highway, which showed its vulnerability on Thursday, she said.

And we’re actually going to get it this decade, after 70 years of waiting.

Bruce Pepperell, civil defence controller for the Wellington region, said comments on the Civil Defence Facebook page during the flooding suggested Transmission Gully had never been so popular.

“It can’t come quick enough,” he said.

“When you’ve only got two main roads out of town, and they’re both gone, then you’re not playing with many aces up your sleeve.”

The pace with which SH1 and SH2 north of Wellington were both knocked out had civil defence staff “sweating” about the prospect of trying to find space in Wellington for an extra 30,000 people overnight, he said.

A Civil Defence-led report in 2013 predicted the Gully motorway would be of even greater value after a major earthquake of magnitude 7.5 or more, which is expected to severely damage Wellington’s main transport links.

Which is why I support it – it is not just about congestion. It is about Wellington not being cut off.


Wellington cut off

May 14th, 2015 at 2:02 pm by David Farrar

Wellington is now cut off due to the rain, with SH1 and SH2 closed and all train lines also closed.

At this point in time I’d like to remind everyone that the Greens are against Transmission Gully. Their policy I presume would be everyone should walk home!

Transmission Gully work starting

April 19th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Site enabling works on New Zealand’s biggest new infrastructure project begin this month.

David Low, Wellington Gateway Partnership chief executive, said initial works on the 27km $850 million Transmission Gully motorway job north of Wellington begin after Anzac Day in New Zealand’s first public private partnership for a state highway project.

Great. The further along it is, the harder it is for any future Government to pull the pin on it.

Transmission Gully construction has started

February 14th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Almost a century after talk began about building an inland motorway north of Wellington, the first act of building Transmission Gully has started.

That first act has involved more dismantling than building, however. Just over a week ago, work began to remove 24 kilometres of high-voltage power lines that run through the gully, including 48 towers and 210 pole structures.

The lines are expected to be toppled by next month, clearing the way for construction joint-venture company Leighton-HEB to begin exploratory earthworks on the $850 million, four-lane motorway.

The project director, Michael O’Dwyer, said the demise of the gully’s titular transmission line was an exciting and important step in the motorway’s five-year construction.

He was all too aware the project had been nothing but hot air around Wellington for decades now. Many people he came across had told him they were not prepared to believe it was actually going to happen until they saw the finished product with their own eyes.

I still find it hard to believe that we have reached the point that it can’t be backtracked. It is happening.

Green Councillor confirms against any large roads

September 24th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

The council’s Transport and Urban Development Committee today vested four pieces of land in Tawa to the Crown for the purpose of building the $850 million motorway north of Wellington.

Doing so was little more than a formality, given the New Zealand Transport Agency’s ability to acquire the land if the council did not willingly hand it over.

But acting committee chairman and deputy mayor of Wellington Justin Lester said, somewhat jokingly, it was the council’s last chance to stop Transmission Gully, which was first mooted in 1919.

”In my personal capacity, I wholeheartedly support it,” he said.

”We [councillors] do look forward to the project getting underway.”

But not everyone on the committee shared that view.

Councillor Iona Pannett said that even though the land transfer was a formality, she would not support it.

”I’m voting against this as a matter of principle because I’ll never never support mega road building,” she said.

”If there’s anything I can do to frustrate that, I will.”

Iona’s views are the views of most elected Greens. They are against roads, no matter what. They will never never support them. It is not about cost effectiveness, road safety or congestion. It is a near religious belief that cars are bad.

Wellington voters be warned

August 15th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Transmission Gully is go this year – if the Government does not change

July 30th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Construction of the Transmission Gully motorway north of Wellington has finally been given the green light, and its true cost has finally been revealed.

The Government today inked a public-private partnership deal that will see the first sod turned later this year, almost a century after the project was first mooted.

While resource consent was granted back in 2012, the motorway’s fate was not assured until a contract had been hashed out with the Australian-led consortium that will build it.

Today’s deal means taxpayers finally know how much the 27-kilometre four-lane link between Linden, south of Porirua, and McKays Crossing, north of Paekakariki, will cost them.

Construction works out to be $850 million in today’s dollars, which is $25m less than it would have cost if the transport agency built the motorway.


The New Zealand Transport Agency says Transmission Gully will save motorists 7.3 minutes heading south and 6.3 minutes heading north during periods of heavy congestion.

The road is also a key component of the Government’s $2.6 billion project to build a 110km four-lane expressway between Levin and Wellington Airport, which will slash about 40 minutes off that journey during the morning peak.

That is huge.

But they have not said when the first sod is turned. If actual construction has not started by 20 September, my fear is that the Greens will demand the road be scrapped as price for coalition with Labour, if there is a change of Government.

Transmission Gully will actually start construction in 2014

October 31st, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

After 65 years or so, it will actually start construction next year. This is hugely important as that will make it very very hard for the Greens to get it scrapped if they are part of a Government after the next election.

The Herald reports:

Construction on the Transmission Gully alternative route to Wellington will begin in the second half of next year – just before the next general election – Prime Minister John Key announced today.

He expected the 27 km project to be ready for use by 2020. Transmission Gully forms part of the Wellington Northern Corridor which is estimated to cost $2.5 billion.

He said morning peak time traffic from Levin to Wellington is expected to improve by 40 minutes.

He also said the new corridor is projected to reduce the number of fatal and serious traffic crashes from 140 over five years after its completion to 100.

We should organise some parties for the day the construction starts!

Another step towards Transmission Gully

April 17th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Gerry Brownlee announced:

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee is welcoming today’s announcement that the NZ Transport Agency has shortlisted two consortiums to deliver the long-awaited Transmission Gully project. …

“This is another important step towards providing motorists and businesses in the lower North Island with a quicker, safer and more reliable route in and out of the capital, bypassing many of the bottle necks and hazardous areas that drivers currently have to deal with on this part of State Highway 1.”

The 27 kilometre long highway will form a key part of the Wellington Northern Corridor, one of seven key state highway routes being progressed by the Government as Roads of National Significance to reduce congestion, improve safety and support economic growth.

Mr Brownlee says the Wellington region has been waiting for Transmission Gully for over 70 years.

“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.

I just hope a contract is signed before the next election so if there is a change of Government, the Greens can’t cancel it.

Road Transport Forum on Transmission Gully

January 15th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Ken Shirley from the RTF writes in the Dom Post:

Why are Sue Kedgley and her Green Party colleagues so stridently opposed to road projects and road transport?

Her article condemning the Transmission Gully project and her physical protest against the Basin Reserve reveal a messianic zeal that surpasses all understanding.

We should all welcome public debate on these important issues, but blatant untruths by campaigners should be exposed for what they are. 

Any motorist or freight operator who has experienced the waste of time and fuel associated with the many congestion points between Mana and Waikanae on the existing State Highway 1 route will readily reject her BANANA (build absolutely nothing anywhere never again) syndrome approach.

A nice summary of the Green Party policy on roads!

Kedgley acknowledges that this project has been on the backburner for decades. Her assertion that taxpayers will end up subsidising every road commuter to the tune of $18 a day is a gross distortion of reality.

What she fails to reveal is that all repairs and maintenance of existing highways and the cost of all new highway projects are paid from the hypothecated Land Transport Fund, with no general taxation funding. 

What we have is a user-pays system, where road users fully fund these activities through the fuel excise duty (FED) on petrol and road user charges (RUCs) on diesel-powered vehicles, including the truck fleet. 

The FED and RUCS are projected to contribute $4.9 billion and $3.7b, respectively, to this fund in the next three years.

In addition, about $500 million of motor-registration fees are paid to the Land Transport Fund. Road users, through their representative organisations, the AA and Road Transport Forum, support and welcome these projects, as do most local bodies. 

Yep roading is basically user-pays, and the vast majority of road users want these projects. Those against tend not to be road users.

Dom Post on Transmission Gully

November 23rd, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Ninety-three years after the idea of constructing an alternative route out of the capital was first mooted in the Evening Post, Transmission Gully is within touching distance.

The Cabinet has given the NZ Transport Agency permission to borrow the funds needed to build and operate the highway using a public-private partnership. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2014 and to finish in 2020.

Once the road is built, freight and people will move in and out of the capital more smoothly, motorists will no longer be subject to long delays or be brought to a complete halt by a single accident blocking the existing coastal highway. Most importantly, the prospect of Wellington being cut off from the rest of the North Island by a major natural disaster will be reduced.

The delays when there is an accident are just insane – a key weakness of having just one route north.

Even without crashes, Transmission Gully should see commute times reduce by 20 minutes a day for the average motorist.

If you don’t do Transmission Gully you would need to make major changes to the existing SH1, but that process is widely thought to be impossible to get consent approval for, as it would affect so many people.


Transmission Gully PPP approved

November 22nd, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Motorists may still have to pay a toll to use Transmission Gully.

Excellent. Those who use roads should pay for them.

The New Zealand Transport Agency was granted permission yesterday to pursue a public-private partnership for the $1.3 billion 27-kilometre, four-lane road planned between Linden and McKays Crossing north of Wellington.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says construction could start in 2014, a year earlier than expected, and be completed in 2020 if a private company built the highway.

A 2014 start would also be excellent. The Greens have made it pretty clear they want Transmission Gully scrapped, and Labour’s position on the road is unclear. If there is a change in Government in 2014, it is possible that we’ll never get Transmission Gully. But if actual construction starts in 2014, that maximises its chance of being completed.

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

More on Transmission Gully

June 23rd, 2012 at 10:13 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Transmission Gully is go, with opponents conceding defeat in their battle against the $930 million highway.

An independent board of inquiry yesterday granted consent for the new inland highway, which will shave 10 minutes off motorists’ peak-time journeys between Kapiti and Wellington.

It means the project, first mooted almost a century ago, has no more bureaucratic hurdles to cross with opponents confirming they have no plans to lodge appeals.

Only an appeal to the High Court could stop it now, though detractors say funding may yet fall through.

The funding will only fall through if there is a change of Government.

Rational Transport Society spokesman Kent Duston would not appeal because the only avenue was arguing whether due process had been followed.

The changes to the RMA last term have been crucial in this. Previously one could spend years and years tied up in hearings and appeals.

Sediment runoff into Pauatahanui Inlet was a key concern for opponents.

But Forest & Bird North Island conservation manager Mark Bellingham said planned remedial work would actually improve the environmental status of the catchment.

Good on Forest & Bird for saying this.

Greater Wellington regional council chairwoman Fran Wilde said the decision was “great” news and would take pressure off the existing route, which carried 13,000 vehicles each day.

“The new Transmission Gully route – which has higher seismic resilience than the present route – will help to future-proof our region.

I note there is no comment from Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, as she is of course against Transmission Gully.

Wellington Civil Defence regional manager Bruce Pepperell said it would be an “escape route” in an emergency.

“It’s more than that. Anyone who lives down here understands that access is restricted at critical points. It doesn’t take a significant earthquake to do this, it just takes a simple storm and a slip to cut the area off.”

It is important strategically, not just to reduce travel times.

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 Transmission Gully 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.

Draft approval for Transmission Gully

May 4th, 2012 at 3:28 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Wellington’s Transmission Gully has been given draft approval, almost a century after it was first mooted.

In a draft decision released today an independent board of inquiry, administered by the Environmental Protection Agency said it would approve resource consent for the $1 billion, 27km inland highway from Linden to north of Paekakariki.

It will release its final decision in mid-June after feedback. That decision is binding and can be appealed against only on a point of law.

Today’s draft decision marks the latest hurdle in a project which – if and when completed – will be over a century from inception to realisation.

An inland alternative route out of Wellington was first mooted in 1919 and has been under serious investigation since the 1980s.

If only it had been built a generation ago. But better late than never.  Four lanes from the airport to Levin will make a huge difference to transport in the region.

Greens say scrap Tranmission Gully to fund Auckland rail

November 14th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Greens has said their policy is to scrap Transmission Gully, and use the money to fund Auckland rail.  Wellingtonians should be outraged by this theft.

If there is a Labour-led Government, the Greens will have massive influence as their vote is around 1/2 that of Labour’s. Will the death of Transmission Gully be one of the conditions in a coalition agreement?

Transmission Gully progress

September 17th, 2011 at 11:34 am by David Farrar

Brownyn Torrie reports at Stuff:

A decision on Transmission Gully will be made within months, nearly a century after an inland route was first suggested – but tolls are still likely to help fund it.

Environment Minister Nick Smith referred the roading proposal to an independent board of inquiry yesterday under new rules to fast-track projects of national significance.

Dr Smith said the swift process would avoid lengthy delays such as the 17 years it took Wellington’s inner-city bypass to gain approval.

There is still more reform to be done of the RMA, but thank goodness a major project can now be consented in a matter of months rather than years.

The board of inquiry, to be overseen by the Environmental Protection Authority, will decide within nine months whether the project can go ahead as planned.

Construction could start as early as 2015.

Great. Up until this Government, I thought I would never see it in my life-time.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce said Transmission Gully would cost just under $1 billion and a toll to contribute to the cost was still likely.

I will happily pay a toll to use the road. All for user-pays.

Transmission Gully

March 8th, 2011 at 10:34 am by David Farrar

Bronwyn Torrie at the Dom Post writes:

Porirua’s mayor is pleading for the Government to ring-fence cash for Transmission Gully to prevent the money being redirected to rebuilding Christchurch.

Wellington roading projects could be in jeopardy as the Government looks to shuffle about $15 billion toward Christchurch.

The prospect has prompted Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett to plead for the “economically critical” billion-dollar motorway project to be ring-fenced.

I’ve been an advocate for Transmission Gully for 20 years or so. I was incredibly happy when Steven Joyce put an end to decades of dithering and announced funding for Transmission Gully.

However I have to disagree with Mayor Leggett. Wellingtonians, as well as Aucklanders, have to be prepared to have some of our infrastructure spending delayed. rebuilding Christchurch must be the priority.

Now this is not to say that Transmission Gully should be removed as a road of national significance – merely that if it is necessary to delay it, then so be it.

Instead, he says the “sacrificial lamb” should be the Petone-to-Granada link road, expected to cost $250 million and ease pressure on Ngauranga Gorge.

Not sure it will be a choice of one or the other. Both may need to be delayed.

Dom Post on Transmission Gully

December 16th, 2009 at 2:08 pm by David Farrar

Today’s editorial:

If Steven Joyce does nothing else as transport minister, he has ensured himself the grateful thanks of Wellingtonians.

I have to say that the response on the street has been overwhelmingly positive. I think most people had given up on it ever actually getting funding.

Yesterday’s green lighting of Transmission Gully as part of a $2.1 billion to $2.4b upgrade of the main road north is a godsend for the Wellington region. All going to plan, the capital will, in 10 years, be linked to all points north by a four-lane expressway stretching from Wellington Airport to Levin. Vehicles will be able to move in and out of the capital with a minimum of fuss and bother. The benefits will be enjoyed not just by motorists but by businesses that will be able to get their goods to market faster.

And having fewer cars stuck in traffic jams will mean less emissions!

The last government undertook to contribute several hundred million dollars towards the cost of upgrading the road north, but never came up with enough money to get the project under way. The difference between it and its successor is that this Government has decided to invest nearly $11 billion in new state highway infrastructure in the next 10 years to reduce congestion and road deaths and improve productivity. As Mr Joyce noted yesterday: “There is nothing like putting a funding pipeline on the table and saying to people `knock yourselves out’.” There is also, it appears, nothing like a minister who earned his spurs in the business world rather than making paperclip chains on Parliament’s back benches. Mr Joyce has injected a sense of urgency into his portfolio.

The last Govt did start moving in the right direction, but as the Dom Post says, Steven has brought his business experience to the portfolio, and has made some relatively quick decisions on the important priorities.

Transmission Gully is go

December 15th, 2009 at 12:31 pm by David Farrar

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.

If only this decision could have been made a couple of decades ago, when it would have been much cheaper. But better late than never and most Wellingtonians will be very pleased that Steven Joyce and the NZTA has made this decision.

Joyce also announced that his is part of a four lane expressway planned from Wellington Airport to Levin. Yay.  Thi will include duplication of the Mt Vic and Terrace tunnels.

Finally, the route through Kapiti has also been announced, and it is basically along the existing Western Link designation – but four lanes instead of two. The current SH1 will become a local road.

There is finally a long-term co-ordinated plan for greater Wellington region. Again, this will be very popular with everyone but Sue Kedgley.