Road Corridor Plan Good News for City

15 December 2009

Mayor of Wellington Kerry Prendergast has welcomed an NZTA report outlining planned road projects along SH1 from Levin to Wellington Airport, which she says paves the way for action to tackle the region's worst bottlenecks.

The Wellington Northern Corridor Project Summary Statement picks a new motorway through Transmission Gully over improvements to the existing SH1 coastal route - but also gives priority to road projects within Wellington City.

Mayor Prendergast, the Council's Transport Portfolio Leader, said: "This is great news - NZTA is looking at the wider needs of the region but still prioritising crucial projects within Wellington City."

Mayor Prendergast and Wellington City Council had previously been cool on Transmission Gully, amid concern that the project would divert funds from much-needed road improvements in Wellington.

But improvements to the Ngauranga-Aotea stretch of SH1 and at the Basin Reserve are included in phase one of the Northern Corridor works.

"This addresses our main concern, which had been that Transmission Gully shouldn't go ahead at the expense of improvements in Wellington which would benefit many more people," Mayor Prendergast said.

"We welcome the inclusion of Ngauranga to Aotea improvements and the Basin Reserve project in phase one. These will benefit thousands of people every day and it is right that they are given priority status.

"Around 86,000 vehicles per day use the Ngauranga to Aotea stretch of SH1 so it is vital that these improvements go ahead without delay."

A project to create a second Mt Victoria Tunnel and widen Ruahine Street - the key route to Wellington Airport - are listed for phase 3 of the programme.

"We understand that this is because it is at an early stage of development compared to some other projects and we expect it to move up the order when further work is done," Mayor Prendergast said.

Wellington City Council previously agreed to Transmission Gully proceeding, but only on condition that concerns about it diverting funding from other projects, its cost relative to the coastal upgrade option, its possible effect on public transport and the potential for creating urban sprawl were met.

The summary statement favours the building of a new road from Petone to Granada as an east-west link ahead of an upgrade of the existing SH58, which had given rise to fears of urban sprawl where it met SH1 at Pauahatanui.

Mayor Prendergast said investment in passenger rail is currently at an all-time high, with more than half a billion dollars being invested in new trains and network improvements. "By the time Transmission Gully is built this investment will be in place, and should mean passenger rail services can hold their own against the increased road capacity."

She congratulated Transport Minister Steven Joyce for sticking to his promise that this summary would be made public before the end of the year.

She said: "We recognise that more work is needed to put flesh on the bones of individual schemes, but for the first time, the Wellington Northern Corridor plan puts Transmission Gully within the context of the region's wider needs.

"As long as the funding is available, construction of Transmission Gully will not now jeopardise other major projects."

For further details contact:

Stephen Matthews, Mayor's Office, (04) 801 3119