Wellington Scoop

“A lot of work to do” before Transmission Gully can open

News from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency
Waka Kotahi expects to be able to provide an update within a week on Transmission Gully opening. The contractor, Wellington Gateway Partnership (WGP), and their sub-contractor, CPB HEB Joint Venture, still have a lot of work to do before the road can open.

This includes finishing construction and meeting the safety and quality tests and consent tasks. The tests are important, not just to meet contractual requirements, but so that there are no major issues that need to be repaired after the road has opened which could mean frustrating closures.

Under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) contract, it is the responsibility of WGP and the builder, CPB HEB, to deliver a road that meets the safety, quality and environmental standards agreed in the contract, and expected by the public.

As stipulated in the PPP contract, there are 100 safety and quality assurance tests that must be met by the builder before the road can open. There are also 45 consent tasks that need to be complete to meet the requirements for road opening, which then need to be signed off by Greater Wellington Regional Council and/or the relevant territorial authorities.

As at 3 December:

47 final test submissions have been received from the builder, of which 30 have been accepted by the Independent Reviewer as meeting the required specifications
38 partial submissions have been made and 15 tests are yet to be submitted
17 of the consent tasks have been completed
Of the 28 remaining consent tasks, 26 are underway and have been progressed to varying degrees, and two are not yet started.

There has been some good progress on consent tasks, with many close to being complete, but work continues on the stormwater system which is a significant consent requirement for road opening.

Later this week, the builder’s team will be working at night to complete road resurfacing at Paekākāriki.

Early next week the team will be completing the median barriers at the northern end of the new motorway, which will require a change in road layout for southbound traffic just past the merge at Mackays Crossing.

This will be an extension of the single lane southbound before it is shifted across to continue to run alongside northbound traffic on what will be the Paekākāriki onramp to Transmission Gully. This will take place on Sunday night, so people travelling on Monday morning should be aware of the slight change in road layout.

Once the safety, quality and environmental standards are met and the road is open, the PPP contract will move into the service phase – the 25-year maintenance and operations period which will be managed by WGP and their maintenance and operations subcontractor, Ventia, after which it will be handed to Waka Kotahi at an agreed standard.


  1. Dave B, 9. December 2021, 3:25

    I wonder what the final, all-up cost of this project will be to the taxpayer, and whether a post-construction audit will be carried out to see if it has been worth it? The country will have an on-going liability for this for 25 years, which may become a millstone for the national transport budget. Will this perhaps prompt a reassessment of the proposed Otaki-to-North-of-Levin motorway, in favour of smaller-scale improvements to the existing road which is all that is needed?

  2. Floyd, 9. December 2021, 7:29

    Announcements about announcements and deflecting responsibility seem to have become quite a theme in recent times.

  3. bsmith, 9. December 2021, 9:47

    Dave B. You are not seriously trying to suggest the current road from Otaki to Levin needs small scale improvements are you?

  4. Keith Flinders, 9. December 2021, 12:00

    Google Maps have updated the section of SH1 with SH59 decals, but have removed virtually all of the Transmission Gully from their satellite images.

    Does this signal that the TG route is going to be abandoned !

  5. Dave B, 9. December 2021, 12:33

    bsmith, yes I am. Start by reducing the speed limit to 80Km/h (=2min extra journey time over the 12.4Km between Taylors Road where the Peka Peka to Otaki motorway ends, and Ohau where the existing 80Km/hr limit begins). Add a wire-rope median barrier, then realign the geometry at the trouble-spots – for example, replace the narrow, curved bridge over the railway at Tatum Park. This could be achieved much quicker than waiting for a massive motorway-solution, and sits much more comfortably with imperatives to shift traffic to rail and reduce carbon emissions. Current daily traffic counts along this road are less than 20,000 per day, both directions combined. It does not justify a full blown motorway and may never do.

  6. bsmith, 9. December 2021, 14:27

    DaveB. Upgrading the road won’t happen any quicker, because you fail to allow for replacing two narrow bridges, let alone bridges that span rivers. You cannot just throw up a wire rope barrier over the complete length of the road, there are places where it would need to be widened. The land for O2NL is already purchased. Instead of basing your comments on daily traffic counts, what is the total weekly count over this section of road?

  7. Winkleman, 9. December 2021, 14:29

    DaveB: the Otaki to North Levin expressway is absolutely needed from a safety perspective as there will be very limited intersections. Doing band aid upgrades to the existing route won’t cut it as you are not eliminating the 100s of intersections/private driveway points along the existing road. Also there is absolutely nowhere to pass beyond the passing lane north of Otaki until you go past Foxton which only serves to increase driver frustration.

  8. Dave B, 9. December 2021, 15:41

    bsmith and Winkleman – the treatment I am suggesting for Otaki to North of Levin is similar to what was done between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki, and this has largely solved the safety issues of that former terrible black-spot. Its effectiveness is attested to here.

    Adding extra facilities for impatient drivers to go faster and overtake is another issue and to my mind a much lower-priority one. The notorious bridge at Tatum Park could be made safer immediately by lowering the speed limit from 75Km/h (advisory) to 60Km/h (mandatory). That so many serious accidents have occurred there without this simple action being taken is a travesty. Likewise it took many years and scores of fatalities before Pukerua Bay-Paekakariki was simply dealt-with, while self-interested motorists and ineffectual transport officials argued that it couldn’t be done.

    I believe that the message of lower speed-limits on roads with “100s of intersections/private driveway points” is at last getting through, with this treatment increasingly being called for. This is the immediate safety-answer to the existing SH1 (O2NL) and many other stretches of road not suitable for a blanket 100Km/h. Whether in the absence of an acute safety problem, a high-cost new O2NL motorway can still be justified for extra speed, overtaking and future traffic-growth needs to be reassessed. We cannot continue to wait for an unjustifiable, gold-plated motorway before taking any action.

    And bsmith, in answer to your question about weekly traffic counts as opposed to daily, I do not know. Waka Kotahi only supply the AADT figures (Annual Average Daily Traffic). I assume weekly totals will be less that 7x the daily, since traffic will be less at weekends (though I may be wrong).

  9. Luke, 10. December 2021, 6:53

    DaveB, I’m guessing you don’t travel during peak loads. That little stretch between Paekakariki – Pukerua Bay can take up to an hour some days (eg Friday afternoons, start/end of public holidays). The number of times I’ve been stuck/crawling along southbound by Manukau/Forest Lakes is only increasing.

  10. Peter Dorne, 10. December 2021, 7:51

    I grew up on Kuku Beach Road and learnt to drive on the roads around Levin and Otaki and then the roads were fit for purpose, but now with the density of traffic it is just beyond a joke. In the old days, people knew how to drive and the speeds were lower. Otaki to Levin, particularly the Kuku to Manukau roads, are the most dangerous in the country. But don’t blame it all on the roads; replace the road and also make drivers take more care .

  11. Ben D, 10. December 2021, 7:51

    Dave B. – The centennial highway improvements caused years of delays when undertaken, and they were only intended to be temporary until TG was constructed. Could you imagine the delays through O2NL if NZTA embarked on the programme of works you’re suggesting? Apart from the obvious safety benefits of O2NL, it also ensures there’s two routes from Levin to Otaki, as there is currently only one (single crossing of the 2 main rivers).

    As an FYI, weekly average traffic count must by definition be 7 times the average daily.

  12. Mike G, 10. December 2021, 8:24

    Dave B. A barrier down the middle of the road will cut off people who live along that stretch, they will have to drive to the end of the barrier and turn around, depending on which way they want to go. And I dont think speed is the problem, the major problem is driver inattention.

  13. Dave B, 10. December 2021, 10:01

    Luke, Peter, Ben and Mike – fair points all, but I don’t think these override the basic arguments that:-

    a) 100Km/h is too fast for the existing road. The limit should be 80Km/h and this will greatly reduce accident risk without spending $billions.

    b) The median barrier is a proven safety-tool. Of course it will require breaks at certain locations, and a lower speed limit will lessen the risk these pose. As for locals being forced to drive the wrong way then turn around – there is a precedent for this at Horokiwi Road south of Petone, where right turns to or from S.H.2 have been prevented for many years.

    c) Building a high-cost motorway to alleviate occasional congestion, provide an alternative route, save a few minutes etc, is a luxury not afforded to most other areas of society. I can think of many examples on the rail network where such largesse would be nice to have.

    d) A high-cost motorway can only be at the expense of some other area of societal need. We have yet to see how the long-term economics of the previous government’s “Roads of National Significance” money-splurge will play out on the country. Maintenance of existing roads may be an early casualty.

    e) There is a pressing need to reduce the multiple adverse effects of our transport system as a whole. These include widespread human, social, environmental and economic costs. Road transport is by far the main contributor to this and needs to stop being excused for political and populist reasons. We need to use motor vehicles less and make better use of more benign alternatives. Every new motorway built sends completely the wrong signals in this regard.

  14. Davie, 10. December 2021, 13:35

    Dave B. Who did you vote for last election? On yer bike Greens or all talk no doing Labour?

  15. bsmith, 11. December 2021, 8:19

    As an aside, the crash at Kuku was nowhere near the passing lane. While a case could be made for wire barriers on that particular (sweeping) corner, to remove all passing lanes is a nonsense.

  16. Matt, 11. December 2021, 9:16

    DaveB and all intelligent contributors. I’ve enjoyed reading a smart and respectful debate of ideas, data, and principles. Shows there’s no easy answer, but the best we can hope for is informed debate and a reasonable, safe outcome. Cheers.