NZTA: No costings for Kapiti Expressway until after election
NZTA refuse to provide updated costings for Kapiti Expressway until after the election
Early last month, NZTA were asked for provisional costings of the MacKays to Pekapeka section of the proposed new motorway from Wellington-Levin under the OIA. Save Kapiti, a community group fighting the proposed motorway, understands from several sources that the project has hit significant cost over runs, and that the cost over runs are in the order of $200 million, which would bring the total cost to $750 million. Save Kapiti made a request for updated, provisional costs under the OIA.
On 28 October 2011, Jenny Chetwynd, Regional Director Central for NZTA, advised Save Kapiti by letter under the OIA that the indicative cost was $550 million and "this cost estimate was calculated in 2009 and has not been updated since that time". Updated costs are due to be released "within the next few months."
Jonathan Gradwell, spokesperson for Save Kapiti, has called on the Minister of Transport to front up to the public with the updated costs before the election, not after it.
"With the election around the corner, we now challenge the Minister Stephen Joyce to front up to the public with an update of estimated costs of this project. We understand that Mr Joyce receives a briefing on this project every week from the project Alliance team, and we think he will be well aware of the current estimated costings."
"We have approached Mr Joyce's office and asked for the estimated costs to be released urgently to allow the voters to make an informed judgement before the election."
An application for the project to be called in is due to be lodged with the EPA in the next few months. The application must include “turn-out costs” i.e. the costs of construction and all mitigation measures proposed to meet the requirements of the RMA.
"Significantly, this date puts it after the election and around the Christmas/New Year holiday period." Mr Gradwell said “In the interests of transparency and accountability, it is imperative that the minister provide this information to the public during the election campaign."
This route was originally chosen because it was estimated in 2009 as being the cheapest (at $380-500m) of the three options under consideration. "The cost/benefit analysis of the route will be significantly downgraded from its already low rate of return if costs have over run to the extent we understand from sources close to the NZTA project team," Mr Gradwell added.
“NZTA have been in the process of investigating and designing this route for nearly two years now and to say that there are no updated estimated costings since 2009 is frankly, beyond belief,” Mr Gradwell said.
"If this information is not provided to the public of NZ before the election, that will mean that both in 2008 and 2011, the public will not be given the chance to scrutinise the real costs of this government’s RONS against the rationale for this huge infrastructure spend."
In Dec 2009, when decision to reroute SH1 over the local road (WLR) designation was made, the cost was publicised as being between $380-500 million. In a letter dated 10 February 2011 from Jenny Chetwynd, Regional Director Central, the cost had moved to $550 million. (This letter is available and can be provided)
NZTA put out detailed design plans to contractors for costings in July 2011. (These plans are available and can be provided by pdf format. They are clearly marked "for costing")
It is apparent from NZTA documents obtained under OIA that the project was not investigated and costed properly in the first place, and that the decision to consider and adopt this route was very rushed. Documents show that the decision to choose this route came after a last minute turn-around by the NZTA board from its earlier decisions to exclude it from further consideration, as it unduly severed Raumati, Paraparaumu and Waikanae communities and this did not meet integrated acceptable planning practice.
The public were given just four weeks to comment when this route was belatedly added to the two that were already under consideration during the “consultation” process in September 2009.