End of the road in sight for Transmission Gully construction

The Kapiti Coast Mayor is relieved a finishing date has been set for the Transmission Gully project. 

Allowing for COVID-19 delays, the expressway north of Wellington will now be complete by September 27, 2021. It was meant to be completed in April. 

Mayor K Gurunathan says the project has been plagued by delays.

"A lot of unfortunate things have happened - the earthquake and then COVID, then there was the private-public partnership. Putting all that aside, this is just bloody good news.

The motorway will now cost $1.25 billion, up from an original $850 million when construction began in 2014. The motorway was first approved in 2009 by then-Transport Minister Steven Joyce.

 John Milford of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce said the delays were disappointing, "but we are pleased that a resolution has been found and work can now resume".

"Wellington has not seen significant transport infrastructure investment since the 1970s and it is glaringly obvious to those travelling around the city and region each day.

"For us it is an important piece of infrastructure, but it is one piece of a large puzzle. We need to see completion of projects across the region. This includes Petone to Grenada, Otaki to Levin, Melling Interchange, Te Ara Tupua, and the full Let's Get Wellington Moving package, among many others."

Gurunathan says 4000 Kapiti Coast residents commute to Wellington.

"People have been investing in the Kapiti Coast... thinking the road will be built." 

The builder, Wellington Gateway Partnership, has a good motive to get it done on time - penalties of $250,000 a day will be incurred from the New Zealand Transport Agency if the road is not open by September 27.

Gurunathan says keeping COVID-19 contained will also be important.

"Projects can come to halt - from that you can lose employment, and this is not good. It's a very good reason for people to keep to the health protocols."

The AA said it was relief to have some certainty, but questions need to be asked about why the process took so long. 

"It is good news that the work is not going to stall with the finish line in sight because the Wellington region needs this road and has been waiting for it for decades," said spokesperson Mike Noon. 

"But that doesn't mean that the problems that have plagued the project should be swept under the carpet. 

"Motorists have the right to clear answers over why the budget and deadline blew-out when the contract was specifically supposed to prevent that.

"If drivers are travelling on Transmission Gully in 2021 they will be glad to finally have it open, but no one should be happy about what it took to get there."