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Two steps forward for Wellington Northern Corridor

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Wellington is today two steps closer to a safer, more resilient and more reliable highway route connecting the Capital with the lower North Island.

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is celebrating the turning of the first sod to mark the official start of construction of the 16km McKays to Peka Peka section Expressway this afternoon, and announcing the consortium that it will enter into Preferred Bidder negotiations with for the Transmission Gully highway project.

The two projects will connect together just north of Paekakariki as two key components of the 110km Wellington Northern Corridor Road of National Significance, which when fully completed will provide a safer, more reliable and more efficient highway connection from Levin to Wellington, connecting the city, the Port and Airport to the growing ecomomic centres of Kapiti and the Manawatu and subsequently the wider north Island.

Transport Agency Chief Executive Geoff Dangerfield said the MacKays to Peka Peka Expressway was a key infrastructure project which would not only provide an improved highway route through the Kapiti district but will also increase safety, reduce travel times and improve journey time reliability between the Kapiti Coast and Wellington. The road was expected to be open to traffic by 2017.

“This road will create jobs, support economic growth and improve transport and productivity for the region, it will save time, money, fuel and lives, and it will make our region more resilient to natural disasters.”

The Expressway will also create a range of community benefits, such as freeing up the town centres of Waikanae and Paraparaumu to make them more people-friendly, and the provision of a dedicated cycle facility along the length of the Expressway to make cycling more attractive and safe. It will also remove heavy freight from communities while also reducing the cost of moving goods around, making Wellington more competitive as a place to do business.

Mr Dangerfield said Transport Agency was also pleased to announce that the Wellington Gateway Partnership had been selected as the preferred bidder for the 27km Transmission Gully project, which would be the first state highway project in New Zealand to be built as a public private partnership (PPP).

The Wellington Gateway Partnership is one of the two shortlisted consortia which the Transport Agency invited in April 2013 to submit proposals for the design, construction, financing, maintenance and operation of the Transmission Gully state highway for 25 years.

Mr Dangerfield said the next step in the process would be subject to the consortium accepting the terms and conditions of the offer of appointment as the preferred bidder.

“If accepted, the Transport Agency will then enter into negotiations with the Wellington Gateway Partnership and if these negotiations are successfully completed, we expect to award the PPP contract for the Transmission Gully project by mid-2014,” he said.  “This is one more important step in the procurement process, but there is more to be done before a PPP contract can be awarded for the project.”

The consortium will then design, construct, finance, operate and maintain the new Transmission Gully highway for the 25 years that will follow the expected five-year period to build the highway. It is aimed to have the Transmission Gully highway open for traffic by 2020.

The Wellington Gateway Partnership is made up of firms with considerable experience in the design, constructing, financing, maintenance and operation of key infrastructure projects, backed by New Zealand and offshore investors, including the following:

  • Leighton Contractors Pty Ltd (lead)
  • HEB Construction Ltd
  • InfraRed Infrastructure General Partner Ltd
  • The Bank of Tokyo–Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd (BTMU)
  • Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)

Mr Dangerfield said Transmission Gully would connect with the McKays to Peka Peka Expressway north of Paekakariki when the Gully route was completed.

“When fully completed, the Wellington Northern Corridor will provide for a more resilient highway route, safer travel, more reliable and reduced travel times, improved access into and out of Wellington for freight and motorists, as well as the wider economic benefits associated with the providing of this key highway infrastructure.”

“Residents in the greater Wellington region have waited for decades to see real action on the building of a safer and more efficient highway route north of the city, and today we are two steps closer to delivering this key strategic route for the region,” he said.

Background information on the Wellington Northern Corridor, including  Q&A’s on the Transmission Gully project can be found here: Wellington Northern Corridor(external link).

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