With less than three months until the contractually agreed opening date of 27 September 2021, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says the Wellington Gateway Partnership (WGP) contracted to build, operate and maintain the Transmission Gully motorway, and its design and build subcontractor the CPB HEB Joint Venture are continuing to advise Waka Kotahi that they remain confident of meeting their contractual commitments and opening the road on time.
Waka Kotahi General Manager Transport Services Brett Gliddon says in spite of the short window of time remaining to carry out a significant amount of work needed to open the road and meet the strict safety and quality standards required by the project agreement, WGP and the CPB HEB Joint Venture continue to confirm that they can meet the contractually agreed opening date of 27 September 2021.
“We know that they are pushing hard to achieve opening by the agreed date, including bringing in additional resources from across the construction sector, and we’re also aware of the high public expectations for the road to be opened as soon as possible. There is now a critical 11 weeks ahead for the contractor and the builder, with a lot of work still to do in a relatively short space of time, in challenging winter conditions. That combination of factors means there continues to be a risk around achieving the agreed opening date,” Mr Gliddon says.
Under the terms of the September 2020 settlement agreement for the project, if the road is not open by 27 September 2021, the builder will be liable for damages of more than $250,000 per day. The agreement also stipulates that the final $7.5m of a $145.5m settlement for the CPB HEB Joint Venture to cover the costs of delays and other impacts resulting from the five-week Covid-19 shutdown will only be paid if the road opens by 27 September 2021.
As with every construction project, progress on Transmission Gully is dependent on many factors, including material supplies and suitable weather, particularly for the laying of pavement.
Mr Gliddon says as well as finishing the physical works, there are also other critical requirements which need to be met by the contractor and the builder before the motorway can legally be opened for public use. This includes safety and asset quality assurance work, and compliance with environmental consent conditions.
“Before Transmission Gully can be opened to the public, the contract for the project requires a range of safety and quality conditions to be met, with approvals to be issued by WGP and their maintenance contractor Ventia. WGP and the CPB HEB Joint Venture will also need to demonstrate that they have met a range of specified conditions for road construction, which will require sign off from Greater Wellington Regional Council (GW) as the environmental regulator before the necessary consents can be issued to allow the motorway to legally open. We have met with GW to discuss their critical role in the sign off process. They have assured us that they can respond as required and achieve the necessary sign offs to permit the road opening.
“The responsibility for meeting all of these safety, quality and environmental conditions, and the final decision on when the road can open ultimately rests with WGP as the project contractor, and GW as the consenting authority.”
Under the terms of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement for the Transmission Gully motorway, WGP has contracted the CPB HEB Joint Venture to undertake the motorway’s design and construction, and Ventia to maintain the road after it opens. The contract requires WGP to operate and maintain the road for 25 years following its opening, after which time the road will be handed over to Waka Kotahi at an agreed standard. Subject to complying with the contractual requirements, all operational decisions related to the construction of the motorway sit solely with the builder, the CPB HEB Joint Venture, and not Waka Kotahi.
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