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Transmission Gully gets the green light

Hon Steven Joyce
Minister of Transport

15 December 2009 Media Statement
Transmission Gully gets the green light

Transport Minister Steven Joyce has welcomed the green light for the development of Transmission Gully, which will be the largest single project in the Wellington Road of National Significance.

The announcement was made by the NZ Transport Agency today as part of the plan for a strategic roading upgrade of State Highway 1 between Wellington and Levin which will reduce congestion, improve safety and support economic growth.

Once complete, the upgraded route from Wellington Airport to Levin is expected to deliver travel time savings of between 23 and 33 minutes during peak times and between 17 and 23 minutes during the day.

Following the 2008 election the Minister said he was not prepared to support funding for the proposal until he had seen a thorough assessment of Transmission Gully alongside the alternative Coastal Route.

Mr Joyce says Transmission Gully has been debated for decades but this is the first time a decision has come with the plan and the funding track to see it through.

“The Government’s decision to invest nearly $11 billion in new State Highway Infrastructure over the next ten years will ensure funding is available for the gully project.”

The NZTA is investigating the possibility of tolling the route as a means to bring construction forward.

“The gully route is the best long-term option for the State Highway 1 Road of National significance between Wellington and Levin in terms of route security, journey time savings and minimising impact both during construction and in the longer term.

“Proponents of the coastal route generally support it because of perceived lower costs. However the latest cost estimates show a similar cost profile between the two options with bypasses at Pukerua Bay, Plimmerton and Paremata being particularly costly because of the built-up nature of those areas, and the widening of Centennial Highway also being problematic.”

Mr Joyce says an important factor in the NZTA’s decision making was the need to minimise the impact on existing communities.

“Transmission Gully will bring benefits to the coastal communities of Mana, Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki through reduced community severance and traffic noise, as well as improved air quality.”

Transmission Gully will also provide an improved east/west connection, with a better and more direct link to State Highway 58, the Hutt Valley and the Wairarapa.

Another strong argument for the Gully route is that it provides an alternative route out of Wellington in the event of a major earthquake or other disaster.

“In a city like Wellington that is so vulnerable to a big quake, you’ve got to have route security,” says Mr Joyce.

“Progressing the Coastal Route would have meant putting all our eggs in one basket.

“Make no mistake, at about a billion dollars this is a very expensive project, so the project is likely to need both the government funding and tolling. The geography of the area means that there are no cheap or easy options.”

Mr Joyce says he thanks local communities for their patience while a final decision was reached and looks forward to now getting on and improving roading for the whole area.



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