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Greater Wellington To Deliver Affordable Lower Hutt Flood Defences

Flood defences will now be delivered by Greater Wellington for Te Wai Takamori o Te Awa Kairangi - delivering RiverLink, instead of the programme Alliance.

Programme partners Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira, New Zealand Transport Agency Waka Kotahi, Greater Wellington and Hutt City Council joined an alliance with constructors AECOM and Fletcher in 2023.

While transport improvements, including the Melling Station relocation and city link pedestrian bridge, will continue to be delivered by the Alliance, the regional council today agreed to alter the Project Partner Agreement, removing most flood protection from the Alliance scope of work.

Greater Wellington chair Daran Ponter says the council’s flood protection team is well equipped to build-up the stopbanks.

“Our dedication to the programme is unwavering. Our commitment to safeguarding the city is steadfast. But our partnership is flexible, allowing us to deliver stand-alone project components at a better price for ratepayers,” Cr Ponter says.

With current programme funding of $295m, Greater Wellington has spent eight-years acquiring and demolishing property along a densely populated, 3km stretch of Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River through the central city. The site is now ready for more resilient stopbanks to be built, but the Alliance has calculated construction costs significantly above the council’s remaining $165m budget.

To complete river works that protect the city from a one-in-440-year flood event, which has a 0.23 percent chance of occurring in any year, the council acknowledges additional funding may be necessary by 2027. But it calculates savings in the tens of millions by delivering the work in-house.

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Chair of the regional Te Awa Kairangi subcommittee, Ros Connelly, says ratepayers will be better served by Greater Wellington working directly with contractors.

“Flood protection is a core council function. It was initially included in the Alliance scope of work on the expectation that cost savings would be generated through innovation and synergies with other aspects of the project. This has not eventuated; in fact, it has become more expensive,” Cr Connelly says.

“Therefore, we’re stepping forward to deliver affordable flood defences at a high standard.”

Greater Wellington’s river works have already begun on the Mills Street stopbank under a separate contract with Fletcher managed by the council. Despite the elevated cost of working within the Alliance, the decision was made to expedite construction on the river section most vulnerable to flooding during severe weather events like Cyclone Gabriele.

Following the Interim Project Alliance Agreement phase, due to be finished in November 2024, it’s estimated Greater Wellington’s enhanced Lower Hutt flood defences will be completed by 2028.

“Our work will seamlessly integrate with our partners’,” Cr Ponter says.

“We’ll be working closely with the Alliance to maintain access to public transport during construction, including when the Melling Line is temporarily closed.”

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Te Wai Takamori o Te Awa Kairangi programme comprises:

  • crucial flood protection infrastructure for Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai Lower Hutt, safeguarding communities and critical infrastructure from severe weather events
  • a new grade-separated SH2 Melling interchange, Melling Bridge over Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River, connecting the interchange to the Lower Hutt city centre, relocation of the Melling train station and its park and ride facilities, walking and cycling paths, and a pedestrian bridge link between the relocated railway station and city centre.
  • supporting the opportunity for a revitalised Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai Lower Hutt, improved health of Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River, and creation of a more liveable city and urban growth prospects.

Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai - Lower Hutt is the most densely populated flood plain in New Zealand. It has a history of flooding and, with climate change, flooding is likely to become an even more complex and difficult natural hazard to manage. Recent flooding events across New Zealand has demonstrated the need for investment in flood protection infrastructure, and the devastating consequences for unprepared communities.

Programme flood protection work is expected to safeguard residents from large flood events that could aect up to 3,000 homes, five schools and 600 businesses, with the potential to cause an estimated $1.1 billion worth of damage across the community. This is the design standard set out in the Hutt River Floodplain Management Plan. This plan was developed by Greater Wellington, Upper Hutt and Hutt City Councils and the community in 2001.

The work will make Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River more accessible, and contribute to its health, leaving it better for generations to enjoy.

The programme will also deliver emissions reduction by both improving public transport links and elevating the Melling Line as a zero emissions route, connected to the centre of Lower Hutt by a pedestrian bridge.

The Interim Project Alliance Agreement (IPAA) was signed in May 2023. The IPAA phase involves a detailed review of the consented design, construction method, and costing. Previously, the entire programme was estimated at around $700 million excluding the cost of property purchases, insurance, initial design, pre-implementation work, and consenting. All partners are still targeting affordable programmes of work through their respected delivery models.

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