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Chamber Backs Transmission Gully

6 November 2005

Chamber Backs Transmission Gully

“The choice between the Coastal Route and Transmission Gully is about whether to continue investing in the existing route, or whether now is the time to develop a new access way into the Region and to add significantly greater capacity for the future,” said Mr Simon Arnold, President of the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce when releasing its submission on the Western Corridor plan.

“The Chamber has weighed up the available material and has decided to back Transmission Gully.

“Making the right decision depends on using the best assumptions about future growth in the region. What is more, while we don’t want to over-invest, if we invest on the basis of low growth assumptions, we’ll get it. Inadequate transport infrastructure will hold us back.

“Wellingtonians may therefore be surprised to find our transport planners have assumed no significant growth in employment in the Region beyond 2011. This is mainly based on trends in population and economic growth up to 2001, so the higher growth over the last few years has not been fully taken into account.

“The Chamber’s view of our future is different. We think Wellington can and should be able to grow faster – around 4%, twice the growth assumed by the planners.

“On this assumption Wellington won’t stagnate. More people would come to Wellington; many would be of working age; numbers in employment would continue to increase; and Wellingtonians would be much better off.

“And most importantly the demand for transport in the Region would be much higher. Higher even than the high assumptions used by the transport planners. Under these conditions even a four lane Coastal Route could be back to its current level of congestion not long after being constructed.

“However even accepting the transport planners’ assumptions about growth the Chamber believes the Coastal Route will have higher costs and lower benefits than is being portrayed in the consultative document. On this basis alone we believe the Coastal Route is the poorer option.

“All told we believe there is a compelling case to make a strategic investment for the future of the Region and build Transmission Gully.”

The Chamber submission identifies a range of benefits which suggest that Transmission Gully is the best way forward. These include:

Six lane capacity versus four, providing a separate strategic route into the region, and giving better and more balanced opportunities for regional economic and land use development; Preservation of the coastal communities; Minimal delays in getting the project started and no risk that the Coastal Route may ultimately prove to be unable to be built because suitable consents cannot be obtained; Limited construction hold ups – Wellingtonians have already experienced the ongoing congestion around the road upgrading at Mana-Plimmerton and at McKays Crossing – this is likely to be the experience on and off along the Coastal Route for the next fifteen years. Systems wide benefits likely to achieved 10 years earlier.

“In particular the likely delays in getting the Coastal Route consented should not be under estimated. The opposition to the Coastal Route is so strong that it will clearly face multi-year delays gaining consent and designations. We can’t see how it can be built without the Government passing legislation to bulldoze through all opposition and RMA procedures. The worst case scenario is a lengthy consent process and then conditions that then leave Transmission Gully as the only option. “We want the congestion problems on the Western Corridor removed as quickly as possible, and we also want to lay the foundation for much higher economic growth for the Wellington region and New Zealand. This issue is a critical one for the future prosperity of the Wellington Region.

“We need strong leadership from the regional Government to see it resolved. And we need early resolution. If, as is likely, this submission and hearing process suggests that long delays in obtaining consents the region has no option but to bite the bullet and find any extra funding necessary to build Transmission Gully, and start construction on this project as quickly as possible.

“A clear consensus from regional leaders on the kind of Wellington we want our transport infrastructure to support could well provide the case needed for that extra funding. Not just for Transmission Gully but also for other priority regional projects,” Simon Arnold concluded.

ENDS


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