‘Beast’ of a road project on track

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - DAMIAN GE­ORGE

Trans­port Min­is­ter Si­mon Bridges is con­fi­dent the ‘‘beast’’ of a project that is the Trans­mis­sion Gully mo­tor­way will be com­pleted on time in 2020, and will help solve Welling­ton’s trans­port woes.

The min­is­ter was given a tour of the im­mense project site north of Welling­ton last week. He told an ac­com­pa­ny­ing me­dia con­tin­gent that progress on the 27-kilo­me­tre-long, four-lane mo­tor­way was well on track.

The $850 mil­lion project, man­aged by the Welling­ton Gate­way Part­ner­ship (WGP), will carve an in­land high­way be­tween Welling­ton’s north­ern sub­urbs and Paekakariki with in­ter­changes at MacKays Cross­ing, State High- way 58, east­ern Porirua and Kenepuru.

To­gether with the $630m Kapiti Ex­press­way fur­ther north, and a project un­der way to solve con­ges­tion in Welling­ton city, it is hoped the jour­ney in and out of the cap­i­tal will be­come safer and faster.

‘‘As you can see, it’s a big beast of a project,’’ Bridges said.

‘‘What all the guys I’ve been talk­ing to have been telling me is this is one of the most tech­ni­cally chal­leng­ing projects, prob­a­bly, we’ve seen in New Zealand.’’

More than 1 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of soil has been moved since the project com­menced in 2014. A to­tal of 6.5 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres will be cut be­fore its com­ple­tion.

Flora and fauna have also been moved, and the first ma­jor di­ver­sion of the Pau­ata­hanui Stream at State High­way 58 has been com­pleted.

The first ma­jor struc­ture – an un­der­pass in the Bat­tle Hill Farm For­est Park known as Bridge 7 – is open to the pub­lic.

Ex­ca­va­tion is con­tin­u­ing for con­crete foun­da­tions and piers, which will form the 230 me­tre­long, 60m-high Can­nons Creek Bridge.

Bridges said he was im­pressed by the progress to date but noted there was still a long way to go.

‘‘We’re at a stage in the project where some 2 mil­lion man hours have gone into this, but we are still not half­way there – nowhere near the peak of this very sig­nif­i­cant beast of a project,’’ he said.

‘‘One of the re­mark­able things about this is a lot of Welling­to­ni­ans, let alone New Zealan­ders, just won’t have a sense that it’s go­ing on, be­cause it’s a bit out of sight, out of mind.

‘‘What we can see to­day is it’s a mas­sive ef­fort. It’s a huge amount of work that’s al­ready been done, and [there’s] a lot more to be done on this com­plex, dif­fi­cult project for the open­ing of it in April 2020.’’

Bridges brushed off sug­ges­tions that the project may sim­ply move the ‘‘choke points’’ along Welling­ton’s mo­tor­way net­work, say­ing the full ben­e­fits of the new trans­port cor­ri­dor would not be re­alised un­til the as­so­ci­ated road­ing projects were also com­pleted.

‘‘Of course, there is the fi­nal piece that’s very im­por­tant and work is be­ing done on right at the mo­ment, and that’s [trans­port] into the city.’’

WGP has a bud­get of $850m to man­age the mo­tor­way project for 30 years, and Bridges said there was no in­di­ca­tion it would need to ex­ceed that.

PHO­TOS: MAARTEN HOLL/FAIR­FAX NZ

Otaki MP Nathan Guy, left, and Trans­port Min­is­ter Si­mon Bridges visit the Trans­mis­sion Gully site north of Welling­ton.

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