The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has welcomed the final Board of Inquiry decision granting designation and resource consents to construct the Waterview Connection.
The NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland Tommy Parker says this is an exciting decision, clearing the way for the Transport Agency to shortly name the successful consortium to construct the country’s largest roading project to date.
“It’s great news for Auckland and for all of New Zealand. The Waterview Connection will help to complete the Western Ring Route, creating a transport solution that will unlock Auckland’s potential for economic growth – and the whole country stands to benefit from that.
“With the Board’s final decision now delivered we’re looking ahead to the announcement of the successful tenderer with the anticipation that construction will start later this year,” says Mr Parker.
The Waterview Connection with its twin three-lane tunnels, is a complex undertaking that is the first ever roading project to be considered using the new national consenting process. Last month, the Board released a draft decision granting the NZTA consent to construct the project.
“We’ve welcomed the opportunity for all parties to review that decision and provide comment. Now we have the final go ahead to get on and deliver a project that will improve the city’s motorway network, improve travel times and ease congestion on local roads when it is completed,” Mr Parker says.
The Waterview Connection, linking the Southwestern Motorway (State Highway 20) and the Northwestern Motorway (SH16), – also includes widening and raising the causeway and other capacity improvement works on the Northwestern Motorway to provide a transport alternative to SH1 through central Auckland.
The project will also provide better connections and improved facilities for those going by cycle or by foot. Catching the bus will also be easier with new bus priority measures and the addition of dedicated bus lanes for key sections of the project.
The NZTA’s application for designation and resource consent to construct the Waterview Connection was lodged with the Environmental Protection Authority in August last year and referred to a Board of Inquiry soon after. Hearings to consider the application began in February, where the Board considered all the evidence and submissions on the project from the NZTA, local authorities, the community and other interested parties.
Mr Parker says the NZTA welcomed the opportunity to present its case and felt that the decision - which has required some additional mitigation measures from the NZTA - reflected the careful consideration of the project requirements and the community’s needs and concerns.
“The Board was tasked with considering detailed investigations and evidence provided as part of the NZTA’s application as well as taking into account the community’s concerns. As a result the Board has tasked the NZTA with making some changes to the scheme including moving the location of the vent stacks and providing some additional open space measures. We now look forward to constructing a project that delivers best value for money while mitigating the effects on the community. We’ll also be creating community liaison groups – made up of community representatives - prior to construction to ensure that the community is kept well informed of what’s happening.”
The NZTA has been running its tender process to construct the Waterview Connection Tunnels and Great North Road Interchange in parallel to the consenting process. In November last year the two consortia - led by Fletcher Construction Co. Ltd, and Leighton Contractors Pty Ltd - were shortlisted from three registered competitors.,.
Mr Parker says that importantly for the community, the procurement strategy the NZTA has adopted will enable the successful tender to deliver a final design that is the best outcome for the community.
“The short listed tenderers have been well engaged with the Board of Inquiry process and are familiar with the issues that are of importance to the community and the Board of Inquiry and have adapted their designs accordingly,” he says.
Running the tender process in parallel has also enabled the NZTA to make the most of the current economic conditions to get best market prices.
“Running the two in parallel will save us up to a year in the construction timetable as well as offer significant savings on the overall cost of the project. We are committed to delivering the project as quickly as possible and with the best value for money,” says Mr Parker.
The NZTA is now looking forward to awarding the contract in late August and anticipates construction will begin soon after.
The Waterview Connection Project is a crucial component of completing the Western Ring Route. It is one of the seven ‘roads of national significance projects identified by the Government as key to unlocking the New Zealand’s potential for economic growth. Other components of the Western Ring Route are well underway or complete. The Hobsonville Deviation and Brigham Creek Extension Project is scheduled to be completed this year, six months ahead of schedule. Once completed the Western Ring Route will provide a 48km alternative to SH1 and will help to ease congestion and travel times for both freight and people.
For more information about the Waterview Connection project visit: www.waterviewconnection.co.nz(external link)
For more information contact:
Auckland Media Manager
NZ Transport Agency