Billion dollar road
The end is in sight for Transmission Gully, but the construction cost now tops $1 billion
Transmission Gully is now officially a $1 billion road after delays have added another $190 million to its bill.
But the road, sought for decades, does now have an official opening time.
The NZTA announced the previously $850m project would now be opened by Christmas this year, however it had to provide the cash to builder CPB HEB JV as relief after construction problems.
The agency confirmed the cost to build the road, including the new payment, was now $1.041 billion.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford would not comment on the announcement of the new opening time or the additional spending.
NZTA’s interim chief executive, Mark Ratcliffe, said the settlement would ensure Transmission Gully was completed to a high standard, met the needs of customers and achieved good value for money.
Last year Stuff reported that the NZTA planned a potential November opening for the road, pushing back its original completion time.
Construction began on the 27 kilometre-long road in 2015, with April 2020 initially touted as the month
traffic would finally flow onto fourlanes connecting Linden in north Wellington to Paeka¯ ka¯ riki on the Ka¯ piti Coast.
Then the NZTA agreed to a onemonth extension of the project’s planned completion date – to May 2020 – but didn’t rule out more delays.
Ratcliffe said the site’s challenging conditions had affected the construction. ‘‘The project required an increased earthworks programme, creating further complexity, disruption and cost to the project through the additional consent requirements.’’
He said those problems and the impact from several storms and the Kaiko¯ ura earthquake meant CPB HEB JV ‘‘has incurred significant additional costs to construct the project’’.
‘‘In acknowledgement that these issues were out of the control of CPB HEB JV and not something they could have reasonably anticipated, the Transport Agency has provided $190.6m of financial relief.’’
As part of the settlement, CPB HEB JV’s historic claims against the Wellington Gateway Partnership, the public-private contractor, and NZTA were resolved without resorting to court action, which would have resulted in further costs and delays to the project, the agency said in a written statement.
The money would come from the National Land Transport Fund – a ringfenced fund covering NZTA spending on its land transport programme.
Relief spending on Transmission Gully would not affect other projects ‘‘currently being progressed’’ on the state highway network, the NZTA said.
The cash injection would be enough to fund the delayed Cross Valley Link road between Seaview and State Highway 2 three times over, and is the same amount proposed to pay for a new tunnel near the Basin Reserve as part of the Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme.
AA motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said the opening of the route would be great news for regional connectivity.
‘‘But it also provides additional lifelines for the region. I think we really got a wake-up call with the Kaiko¯ ura earthquake.’’
Noon said unless there was an ‘‘amazingly awful’’ weather event or earthquake, he expected Transmission Gully would be open by Christmas.
The transport fund was ‘‘a little bit underspent’’ so there was some room to cover the additional cost, Noon said.
Ka¯ piti Coast mayor K Gurunathan said the opening announcement was good news, and the additional spending was ‘‘the $190m red carpet to get it done’’.
The region had waited decades for the road, which once opened would create massive changes for Ka¯ piti, he said.
Porirua mayor Anita Baker said the Christmas announcement was good news for the city, which sits beside the southern end of the new road.
‘I’m really relieved and I’d like to hold them to that – that it is open before Christmas.’’
She said hopefully that meant the link road connecting Transmission Gully to Kenepuru Dr would be done more quickly too. Work on this route was delayed due to unexpected ground conditions and a rethink on the size of its roundabout.
A Transmission Gully bridge takes shape, in September, 2019, despite delays in the overall project.