The Kāpiti district, and wider Wellington region, needs certainty about when Transmission Gully will be opening, and the Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce is urging Waka Kotahi, the NZ Transport Agency, to confirm when traffic will be travelling the new state highway.
The $1.2 billion project, which will span 27 kilometres from Paekākāriki to Linden, was due to open this week, but, due to a range of factors, no updated finish date has been announced. The project is hundreds of millions of dollars over budget, and some of those involved in the public-private partnership behind the road’s design and construction are now part of court action, with a contracting business seeking millions from an engineer over alleged design issues.
The Chamber says the daily traffic delays and snarl-ups are impacting the region, and while it understands the delays caused by COVID-19 lockdowns are unavoidable, there needs to be more transparency about when Waka Kotahi expects the Gully to be complete.
Chamber Co-Chair Jacinda Thorn says the road has been a long time coming, and once opened will bring unprecedented opportunities to the region, which are needed to lift the mean average wage – which is $20,000 lower than the regional average.
“We know when it’s open it will make it easier for people to commute, encourage businesses to look further north when considering where to operate, and make the beautiful Kāpiti Coast an even more attractive place to live,” she says.
“Our region and businesses have been patient, but with every delayed deadline, the patience begins to wear thin. We’re calling on Waka Kotahi to give us some certainty about when we will get the green light to travel Transmission Gully”.
The more delayed the road’s completion is, the more it costs taxpayers, with Waka Kotahi NZTA already paying contractors $190 million due to resource consent delays and another $164 million for the delays caused by the first COVID-19 lockdown, something the Kāpiti Chamber says cannot be allowed to continue.