Kapiti Express to be completed by 2020
A private-public partnership to build Transmission Gully will free up cash to ensure the controversial Kapiti expressway is finished by 2020.
Last week the NZ Transport Agency announced plans to open up applications for a private consortium to build and maintain the road for 25 years.
The consortium would finance the construction work, expected to cost about $1.3 billion, and in return the Government would pay it about $120 million annually over 25 years. Work would start a year earlier than planned, in 2014, and be completed by 2020.
The plan would free up about $1b earmarked for the Gully to push forward other highway projects over the next five years.
This includes the MacKays to Peka Peka, and Peka Peka to Otaki sections of the Kapiti expressway, creating 60 kilometres of new highway by 2020.
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee asked NZTA to investigate tolling the Gully route.
''The NZTA will look into the details of a tolling scheme in the new year, and a decision on tolling will be made separately.
''Progressing Transmission Gully as a PPP is not dependent on tolling the route.''
News of the proposal to go private was greeted with enthusiasm by Kapiti Coast District councillors meeting last week.
Supporters Tony Lester and Mike Cardiff applauded the decision that will see the project start earlier.
Mr Cardiff said it would be a economic boost for Kapiti and create jobs, and the council should be ''quite happy'' about the decision.
Councillor Hilary Wooding asked if the council should be happy about the prospect of tolling.
Mr Cardiff said that was detail for later on and the important thing was that the project looks set to start.
Meanwhile Otaki MP Nathan Guy said the move was a ''great decision'' by the Government.
Mr Guy won re-election backing the controversial Kapiti expressway.
''I'm proud to be part of a government which has finally got this project [the Gully route] under way, and that has reformed the resource management to stop these kinds of projects becoming bogged down in red tape.''
Resource consent for the MacKays to Peka Peka expressway, however, has yet to be granted.
A Board of Inquiry is hearing submissions at Southwards, and is expected to give a preliminary finding in March.
Pending consent, work on the $630 million section is planned to start late next year.
No start date has been given for Peka Peka to Otaki section.
The Government will call for expressions of interest for the Gully project in January, and expects to award a contract by mid-2014.
The 27km Gully route forms the MacKays to Linden segment of the Wellington Northern Corridor.
Under the private-public deal, the road would remain in public ownership.