Kia ora and welcome to a spring update from the Transmission Gully team.
The Alert Level 4 lockdown on 18 August brought the huge amount of activity on site to an abrupt halt and our team quickly returned home (some paving crews were ‘on loan’ from Christchurch and Auckland).
Some of the team were able to continue working from home and some became the essential workers we needed onsite, or on call, to ensure the site was safe and secure, and the environmental works were protected during lockdown.
We know the lockdown, and Alert Level restrictions, will have an impact on the opening date for Transmission Gully, however it is still too early to say exactly what that impact will be.
Under Alert Level 4 we had small teams of essential workers on site, working within the requirements of the COVID-19 restrictions. Primarily this work was to ensure the strict environmental controls were maintained.
This work included:
One of our key areas of focus has been on sediment treatment ponds. These are ponds that we use to protect the surrounding environment during construction. They remove around 80% of sediment from runoff that is directed into them. All ponds accumulate sediment and need regular maintenance to ensure they have enough capacity to hold and treat the sediment-laden stormwater runoff.
During Alert Level 4, each piece of essential environmental work was assessed and prioritised in terms of actual or potential environmental risk. The only works conducted were those that met the criteria for essential environmental works, and they were completed as efficiently as possible under the strict requirements of that Alert Level.
With the advent of Alert Level 3 many activities recommenced on Transmission Gully, where necessary physical distancing and health and safety requirements could be achieved.
Activities under Alert Level 3 included:
SH58 motorists may notice more traffic coming in and out of Lanes Flat (the main site office on SH58) as COVID-19 tracking and health and safety checks for all staff are managed from this site office.
We have implemented a management plan in line with Government guidelines and industry protocols to ensure we are keeping our workers and the community safe. This includes things like worker separation, PPE (masks, glasses and gloves), staggering start and end times (including staggered lunch breaks), sign in and sign out control points, use of fogging units to clean offices and machines, keeping workers in one area and not moving teams around site, and minimising the use of shared equipment.
All crews are briefed on the COVID-19 safety requirements before starting work and are issued with cleaning equipment and hand sanitiser.
Most office and support staff worked from home during Alert Level 3. At Level 2 – most staff will return to site, working in accordance with Alert Level 2 requirements.
The full impacts of the lockdown are not fully understood yet. While we want to complete the remaining work as soon as possible, we are expecting some disruption to workforce availability and supply chains as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions across the country.
The road through Transmission Gully is now officially designated as a motorway.
Her Excellency the Governor-General, the Right Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy signed the Order in Council on 16 August. It has now been ‘Gazetted’ (published in the NZ Gazette) and will come into legal effect from 20 September, well in advance of road opening.
Coincidentally, the next day we hosted the Governor-General on her latest visit to the project. It was a rather wet and windy day but Dame Patsy was able to see the nearly completed motorway and meet some of the team involved with the project.
It was full circle for Dame Patsy Reddy, who was the Transport Agency’s Deputy Chair when construction officially began back in September 2014. At the time she said; “Today marks a historic day for the Wellington region.” She noted that the Transmission Gully project had been talked about since 1919 – even before the invention of penicillin and parking meters – and the start of work was the culmination of a decades-long effort to make the project a reality.
Exactly one week prior to the snap lockdown, our aerial photographer Mark Coote captured these great shots of progress on Transmission Gully.
Keen to see a drive through of Transmission Gully?
In July we invited AA New Zealand Council Member Jenny for a preview test drive of Transmission Gully. Take in the sights and hear what Jenny thought of the nearly complete motorway:
Driving a car is one thing, but how does the new motorway feel when driving a loaded truck?
Before lockdown, we asked the Road Transport Forum to invite a truck driver for a preview test drive of Transmission Gully. Here’s what Sola made of his first ever drive on Transmission Gully.
We think Robert Mahoney is the project’s number one fan, and he agrees.
The 67-year-old says he’s been fascinated with Transmission Gully since he first read about it in the Dominion Post in 2013.
He listens, watches and reads every bit of news on the motorway, so that he’s always up to date.
He says he’s witnessed the project’s ups and downs but that it’s tremendous to see it so close to completion.
“The way they’re getting on with it. I’m impressed! It will make a hell of an improvement to the region.”
He agrees it will be a much safer way in and out of the city.
He collects the project newsletters and shares them around his friends and family.
Robert rings the project’s Stakeholder Manager, Darren Utting, to catch up regularly, and Robert and the project even exchange Christmas cards.
He’s amazed to see the progress this year and says it’s really taking shape. “It’s a fantastic job they’re all doing.”
When not in lockdown, he goes to the library to watch our Transmission Gully videos on a library computer and then saves them to a USB drive.
He particularly enjoyed the paving videos; “Gosh, they’ve got a magnificent way of doing the paving,” he says.
He doesn’t drive himself, but he’s got his friends lined up to drive him through the motorway as soon as it opens.
“Congratulations all you Transmission guys! I just can’t wait to get it open.”
We continue to remind all members of the public to stay safe and not enter the project site at any time. It remains a high hazard area.
If you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have an urgent matter, please call the 24-hour project hotline on 0800 TGINFO. If we are working outside of our normal work hours and you’re one of our neighbours, we’ll be in touch with you directly as usual.
But for now, Haere rā from the Transmission Gully team.