Bil­lion dollar road

The end is in sight for Trans­mis­sion Gully, but the con­struc­tion cost now tops $1 bil­lion

The Dominion Post - - Front Page - Joel Maxwell and Damian Ge­orge

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.

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