Trans­mis­sion Gully to be user pays?


Mo­torists could find them­selves hav­ing to pay to use the $850 mil­lion Trans­mis­sion Gully mo­tor­way north of Welling­ton af­ter the New Zealand Trans­port Agency be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing the idea of a toll.

Porirua City Coun­cil has re­vealed the agency ap­proached it last week about po­ten­tially charg­ing driv­ers on the four-lane, 27-kilo­me­tre mo­tor­way be­tween north­ern Welling­ton and the Kapiti Coast when it opens in April 2020.

Coun­cil road­ing man­ager Ge­off Mar­shall said ‘‘in­for­mal talks’’ with the agency about a user-pays sys­tem were con­tin­u­ing.

The agency also con­firmed a toll was still a pos­si­bil­ity, but said a fi­nal de­ci­sion would be at the dis­cre­tion of the Min­is­ter of Trans­port, and would not be made un­til late 2019.

The out­come of ne­go­ti­a­tions to form the next gov­ern­ment could have a ma­jor bear­ing on that de­ci­sion. Labour does not sup­port a toll, while Na­tional’s care­taker trans­port min­is­ter Si­mon Bridges is stay­ing quiet for now af­ter play­ing down the pos­si­bil­ity back in 2014.

Any de­ci­sion to toll Trans­mis­sion Gully would in­clude feed­back from com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion, the agency said.

Porirua Mayor Mike Tana did not sup­port a toll, say­ing it was not the ‘‘Kiwi way’’ of do­ing things. ‘‘Per­son­ally, I find toll roads a real headache and they’re not a New Zealand thing. They’re not what we do in this coun­try.’’

Tana un­der­stood the mo­tor­way, which is be­ing built for the Gov­ern­ment by a pri­vate con­sor­tium, needed to be paid for.

But a toll would likely en­cour- age more driv­ers to keep us­ing the ex­ist­ing two-lane coastal SH1 route, as well as other lo­cal al­ter­na­tive routes that Porirua City Coun­cil is re­spon­si­ble for main­tain­ing.

‘‘Those roads could be com­pro­mised in an earth­quake ... we’re propos­ing that NZTA main­tain some of it for emer­gen­cies. It looms on our hori­zon as a huge is­sue that could pay­ers.’’

Bridges’ of­fice would not com­ment other to say a de­ci­sion on tolling would be made by the fu­ture Gov­ern­ment.

Labour trans­port spokesman Michael Wood said the party did not sup­port tolling the mo­tor­way.

‘‘My un­der­stand­ing is that past mod­el­ling has shown that a toll on af­fect rate- Trans­mis­sion Gully risks mak­ing the road so poorly used that it de­feats the pur­pose of build­ing it in the first place.’’

Green Party trans­port spokes­woman Julie Anne Gen­ter said tolls were fair as long as there were other trans­port op­tions for those who could not af­ford the cost.

That would come in the form of im­proved train ser­vices, she said.

For­mer Porirua mayor and act­ing Cham­ber of Com­merce


Only three toll roads ex­ist cur­rently in this coun­try - the North­ern Gate­way north of Auck­land, the Tak­itimu Drive Toll Road south of Tau­ranga and the Tau­ranga East­ern Link. Trans­mis­sion Gully would be Welling­ton’s first.

It costs cars $2.30 and trucks $4.70 to travel on the North­ern Gate­way. The charges for Tak­itimu Drive are $1.80 per car and $4.80 per truck. Cars on the Tau­ranga East­ern Link Toll Road pay $2 and trucks $5.

The toll points are elec­tronic, us­ing cam­eras and sen­sors to cap­ture an im­age of your ve­hi­cle’s regis­tra­tion plate and as­sign the cor­rect toll. head, Nick Leggett, said a de­ci­sion to toll should pro­voke a com­plete re­think of the re­vo­ca­tion process. ‘‘Porirua has laid down ev­ery­thing for Trans­mis­sion Gully. A toll would rad­i­cally im­pact the city by keep­ing at least a third of traf­fic on the ex­ist­ing state high­way.’’ At the other end of the mo­tor­way, Kapiti Mayor K Gu­runathan said he wel­comed a toll be­cause peo­ple would travel through his district to avoid it. Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion spokesman Mike Noon said it would not be a sur­prise if the road was tolled, and he ex­pected lit­tle op­po­si­tion from mo­torists. ‘‘We ex­pect it to come out and be con­sulted on. It would be a lit­tle odd given the road is al­ready be­ing built but it’s not a new con­cept.’’

The Trans­mis­sion Gully mo­tor­way is be­gin­ning to take shape north of Welling­ton. Right, the North­ern Gate­way toll road north of Auck­land.

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