Wellington Scoop

Open in 2020? No, not till 2022

sod turning trans gully-2

by Lindsay Shelton
It was in 2014 when Prime Minister John Key led these VIPs to a ceremony with shiny shovels, to start construction of Transmission Gully. It was going to take five years to build, at a cost of $850m.

Not yet chosen to be Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy was then deputy chair of the Transport Agency, and she said:

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

She may now be looking back on those words with regret, as those first journeys have turned out to be impossible till sometime in 2022.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee shared her confidence:

“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.”

Dame Patsy also praised the public – private partnership deal:

“…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.”

Gerry Brownlee was also excited by the PPP arrangement:

“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.”

Increased certainty about delivery? That proved to be an ill-considered claim.

This week, Transport Minister Michael Wood said the partnership was a mistake…. “a botched National Party PPP and we’re experiencing the costs of that now.” The DomPost reports multiple problems with the way the contract was planned and established. It says the National Government tendered the private contract out at an unrealistically low price by essentially “double counting” cost-savings that the private sector could bring to the project.

The problems are now acknowledged from the top: Waka Kotahi acting chair Sir Brian Roche says that planning and decision-making for the PPP lacked the proper rigour, consideration and transparency.

TG overbridge

April 2020 was the original opening date. It didn’t happen. The Transport Agency then said it would be open by Christmas 2020. When that proved impossible, the Transport Agency said it would be open by September this year. It didn’t happen. And this week, an admission that work won’t be completed till next year. And there isn’t any opening date.

The road builders are now facing penalty payments of $250,000 a day. And the NZ Herald reports flawed chipseal in a southbound lane.

A final word from Sir Brian Roche: “It’s no great public secret that this has been a problem contract for us”.

And did we mention the cost? When the shiny shovels were used to launch the project (when it was intended to open two years ago), all the VIPs expected it would cost $850m. The price last year: $1.25b. And now?


  1. Andrew, 18. December 2021, 10:41

    More than $1.25b is only the monetary cost. What about the incalculable cost to the environment of this folly. Imagine if we’d instead spent a tenth of this on re-wilding and enhancing this corridor for indigenous flora and fauna. That would have been something to be proud of instead of this river of pollution.

  2. D'Esterre, 19. December 2021, 0:46

    Andrew, I’ve never been in favour of this project. Had it never been built, there’d have been no need to spend anything on that area. In its natural state, it was a perfectly suitable habitat for flora and fauna. No re-wilding required.

  3. Henry Filth, 20. December 2021, 5:53

    It would have been handy to have had this road open the other day, when travel from Porirua to Waikanae was via Pahiatua.

  4. bsmith, 20. December 2021, 6:23

    That area was mainly farmland. Whichever way you look at it, TMG will be a great asset to all Wellingtonians

  5. TrevorH, 20. December 2021, 7:51

    I can’t wait for TMG to open, it will revitalize the region. Next, on to Levin!

  6. Georgina Campbell, 22. December 2021, 17:41

    Let’s be clear, we need a new opening date for Transmission Gully. It’s a matter of transparency and we shouldn’t be comfortable with the way Waka Kotahi has recently shied away from telling us what that date actually is. [via twitter]

  7. Harold Rodd, 23. December 2021, 7:11

    It is a beautiful road.

  8. Dave B, 23. December 2021, 15:50

    I salivate each time I think about it.

  9. Ben Chartrand, 23. December 2021, 16:49

    Before Transmission Gully opens to vehicles, will there be an opportunity to walk or ride sections or all of it? Would be keen to bike it all it possible. [via twitter]