Wellington Scoop

“Great excitement:” politicians dig dirt to start 27km Transmission Gully motorway

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The official party at today’s official ceremony

News from NZTA
Today’s official construction start on the Transmission Gully Motorway marks a major step towards a safer and more resilient transport link in and out of Wellington.

Transport Agency Deputy Chair Dame Patsy Reddy says the Transmission Gully project has been talked about since 1919 – even before the invention of penicillin and parking meters – and the start of work is the culmination of a decades-long effort to make the project a reality.

“Today marks a historic day for the Wellington region, and it is with great excitement that we look forward to another historic day in 2020 when we can take our first journeys on Transmission Gully.

“An extraordinary amount of work has gone into this project to get it to the starting line. Planning a 27km motorway might not be as physically demanding as building it, but it’s just as labour intensive.

“The project has a significant number of structures and geotechnical challenges, and construction of Transmission Gully will involve cutting edge construction techniques, state of the art safety technology and the latest innovations in environmental mitigation.”

Dame Patsy says the Public Private Partnership (PPP) contract to deliver the project was also ground-breaking with its strong focus on delivering specific outcomes, providing strong incentives for private sector innovation to drive greater value for money.

“The conditions of the PPP contract include clear incentives for our private sector partner – the Wellington Gateway Partnership – to deliver consistent outcomes over the 25-year operating period – including high and sustained safety performance, reduced travel times, travel time reliability, route resilience, and high levels of customer satisfaction.

“Importantly for the Transport Agency, the PPP will allow the transfer of innovative solutions and better ways of working across the wider transport network, which means all New Zealanders will enjoy the benefits.

“This investment will also benefit businesses and communities throughout the lower North Island by making it easier and safer people and goods travelling between the North and South Islands – making their journeys more efficient and resilient.”

Dame Patsy says the project’s support among Wellingtonians is unparalleled for a project of its kind.

“Generations of Wellingtonians have advocated tirelessly for Transmission Gully, and getting the first spade in the ground is the result of many, many years of dedication and passionate community support.

“There are so many reasons Wellington has gotten behind Transmission Gully, but in short, it provides a transport link that is befitting of a modern, productive and dynamic capital city.

“In 2020, when Transmission Gully opens, we can look forward to a future of safer, easier, reliable, and more efficient journeys.

“While we have worked hard to improve the safety of the Coastal highway, it has remained a challenging road for motorists. When Transmission Gully is open, it will usher in a new era of safety for Wellington travellers. The road will also provide Wellington with a northern outlet that in the event of a major disaster can be restored within weeks, not months, and will be far less prone to the frequent disruptions we have on the two-lane Coastal route.”

Dame Patsy says the project is well complemented by a rail system that has been continually upgraded over the years with unprecedented levels of investment on improved infrastructure and a new rolling fleet.

Another benefit of the project is it would be a great boon to communities currently living along the coastal route.

“Thousands of vehicles a day, including hundreds of heavy vehicles, pass through communities such Mana, Pukerua Bay and Plimmerton. The Transmission Gully motorway will take those vehicles off their hands. This means those communities can start to look ahead to creating more liveable environments, and safer, user-friendly facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.

“This project is designed to deliver huge economic dividends once it’s open for business, but it will also provide years of additional economic activity while it’s being built.”

“Together with the Kapiti Expressway, this project will create a huge economic boost for the Wellington region.

“Local suppliers will be in demand, jobseekers ranging from manual workers to managers and highly skilled specialists will have fantastic new career opportunities, and the economic benefits will filter down to the property market, retailers, and even the pie shops.”

Dame Patsy recognised the dedication of all those who had toiled to get these projects underway, including local councils, community advocates, and Transport Agency staff and the many groups of professionals who have been working with the Agency on the projects.

Transmission Gully will connect with the Kapiti Expressway to the north, and once it is completed in 2020, Wellingtonians will be able to enjoy four lanes in each direction all the way from the Terrace Tunnel to north of Otaki. The projects form the central part of the Wellington Northern Corridor Road of National Significance, which will improve safety, journey times and reliability, and resilience between Wellington Airport and the lower North Island.

The project will be the first state highway in New Zealand to be delivered as a Public Private Partnership, by the Wellington Gateway Partnership. More details of the contract are here.

News from NZ Government
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says Wellingtonians will be delighted that after nearly a century in the making, work on the long-awaited Transmission Gully road is now officially underway. Mr Brownlee today joined Prime Minister John Key and United Future leader and Ohariu MP Peter Dunne, other local dignitaries and officials, in turning the first sod on the 27 kilometre four-lane highway, which is the first roading Public Private Partnership (PPP) in New Zealand’s history.

“Probably no infrastructure project in this country’s history has been so talked about, or been so eagerly awaited and well supported, as Transmission Gully,” Mr Brownlee says. “This is a monumental milestone for the region and for the country, and it’s exciting to know the motorway will be ready and open in 2020.

“Transmission Gully will be a truly transformative project, and there are several good reasons why it is so well supported.

“First, it will enhance road safety by providing a state-of-the-art motorway with cutting-edge modern safety engineering. Second, the peak hour delays and disruption we experience too often will be eased by having a shorter, higher capacity route to the capital.

“Third, it will offer far greater resilience in the event of a major disaster, meaning access to Wellington can be restored much quicker than is predicted with the existing coastal route. Fourth, it will greatly reduce the flow of traffic through coastal communities such as Mana, Plimmerton and Pukerua Bay.

“And fifth, it will enable Wellington to play an increasingly strong role in the national economy by providing an efficient freight route that will help to cement its status as a key commercial hub and a gateway to the South Island.”

Mr Brownlee says the project had proved an ideal candidate for a PPP.

“Public Private Partnerships allow large and complex projects to benefit from private sector innovation and funding sources. This can increase certainty of delivery and drive better value for money, and that’s exactly what’s happening here.

“The PPP journey for the Transmission Gully project began in August 2012 when I indicated to the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) that the Government was open to supporting the model to deliver the Transmission Gully motorway.

“Almost two years later, in July this year, NZTA signed New Zealand’s first-ever Public Private Partnership contract for a state highway with the Wellington Gateway Partnership.

“I want to congratulate the NZTA board and staff for the innovative way they’ve gone about landing this very important project.

“Under the terms of the contract the Wellington Gateway Partnership will design, construct, finance, operate and maintain the new Transmission Gully motorway for the 25 years that will follow the expected five-year period to build it.”

The project is valued at $850 million in today’s dollars and is part of the Wellington Northern Corridor Road of National Significance, which will support economic growth and ease traffic congestion on the highways and local roads by providing an upgraded four-lane route from the north into Wellington’s CBD.

It will also improve access to and from Wellington’s port, CBD, airport and hospital. Construction on the MacKays to Peka Peka Expressway section is now well underway after starting construction last year.