‘Beast’ of a road project on track
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.
Otaki MP Nathan Guy, left, and Transport Minister Simon Bridges visit the Transmission Gully site north of Wellington.