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Full steam ahead on ALPURT B2

21 July 2005

Media Release

Full steam ahead on ALPURT B2

Transit New Zealand confirmed today that Land Transport New Zealand has approved the release of the $180 million National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) share of construction funding for the Northern Motorway Extension (ALPURT B2) toll road from Orewa to Puhoi.

The release of these funds enables the Northern Gateway Alliance, which is delivering the project for Transit, to maintain the momentum of construction progress and remain on track to complete construction by mid 2009.

Construction began in December 2004, following an advance of $26 million from the $180 million NLTF commitment and excellent progress has already been made says Transit Auckland Regional Manager Richard Hancy.

“During the summer earthworks season the Alliance completed the necessary preparatory works, enabling them to get underway on some of the more major structures along the route during winter,” he said.

Piling works are well underway on the Otanerua Eco-Viaduct and piling for the Waiwera Bridge is due to start in September. Preparatory works for the twin tunnels through Johnstone’s Hill are also on track, with tunnelling expected to begin before the end of the year.

The remaining funding required to advance construction of ALPURT B2 will be raised through debt to be repaid by tolls. Transit is currently in discussions with the New Zealand Debt Management Office (a division of the Treasury) to agree the terms and conditions of the debt prior to drawing it down.

In May 2005 NZDMO announced the government’s intention to provide the debt component of the project’s financing through the issue of infrastructure bonds. The design and launch date of the bonds will depend on the final debt arrangements agreed by Transit and the NZDMO.

“It is expected that the principal terms and conditions of the debt arrangements will be agreed in the coming months. Once in place the debt facilities, which are forecast to be available from early 2007, should provide further scope for acceleration of works,” said Mr Hancy.

The release of the NLTF funds has enabled Transit to report back to the Environment Court on the funding certainty achieved. The Court’s decision on whether to grant a further extension of the use of Grand Drive, Orewa, as a state highway link road until November 2006 is expected later this month. Grand Drive is being used as a link between the end of the motorway at Orewa and State Highway 1 to the north until ALPURT B2 is completed.

A parallel stage of development for ALPURT B2 includes further investigation of an electronic toll collection system, as conditionally approved under the Order in Council approving ALPURT B2 as a toll road. This is now being carried out under the Toll Systems Project, a Transit-led project in partnership with Land Transport New Zealand and the Ministry of Transport.

“It is important to note that there will be an alternative untolled route – the existing State Highway 1 between Silverdale and Puhoi via Orewa – and there will be on-road signage informing road users of the choice ahead to take the tolled or alternative route,” said Mr Hancy.

“We are targeting to report back to the Minister of Transport by mid 2006 on the toll collection system that is being developed by the Toll Systems Project for ALPURT B2. At that time, key information will be available that will enable road users to better understand what they may experience when they use the new toll road.”

The toll tariff to be charged in each direction will range from $1.80 for cars to a $3.60 toll for heavy commercial vehicles. These tariffs will be CPI indexed to opening day. This range was determined through extensive traffic modelling to optimise the overall use of the network while still ensuring debt repayment obligations can be met.

The toll collection system being developed by the Toll Systems Project will be operational by 2009 – in time for the commissioning of the ALPURT B2 toll road.

ENDS

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