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.Tags: Transmission Gully
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!Tags: Transmission Gully
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.Tags: Transmission Gully
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.Tags: Ken Shirley, Road Transport Forum, Transmission Gully
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.
Tags: Transmission Gully
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.Tags: Transmission Gully
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.Tags: Transmission Gully
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.Tags: Transmission Gully
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.Tags: Transmission Gully
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.Tags: Transmission Gully
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?Tags: Greens, Transmission Gully
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.Tags: Transmission Gully
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.Tags: earthquake, Transmission Gully
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.Tags: Dominion Post, Transmission Gully
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.Tags: roads, Steven Joyce, Transmission Gully