Call for Transmission Gully to be only route for trucks

KRIS DANDO
Last updated 14:10 29/11/2012

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A Porirua councillor is calling for a tolled Transmission Gully motorway to be the only route available to trucks - to relieve pressure on the coastal highway.

Ken Douglas, a former head of a truck drivers' union, said he supported a controversial proposal to toll the inland highway.

But if transport companies did not force their drivers to use the Gully route, local authorities such as Porirua City Council would pay the price, he said at a committee meeting last week.

"We should be insisting that trucks use Transmission Gully, otherwise we are going to have to maintain the coastal road. I used to represent truckies but I don't think there should be a free decision on which road you can use."

Meanwhile, the Government's decision last week to finance the $1 billion project through a public-private partnership (PPP) has been greeted with both praise and scorn.

A PPP is a long-term contract, involving Government and private funding, that National says will provide certainty around financing, construction and operation of the project.

Mana Labour MP Kris Faafoi said it would be more prudent to see the costs and benefits of a PPP compared to a solely Government-funded proposal.

"We don't know what this [PPP] approach is based on, it throws up questions about the motivation of the Government doing something that will make private profit or really benefiting the public.

"What we don't want is a failed venture and a white elephant on our hands."

Mr Faafoi said the level of tolling could again come down to the private interests in a PPP.

NZ Transport Agency chief executive Geoff Dangerfield said a PPP "opens the door for private sector innovations", while stressing full ownership of the highway would remain in public hands.

A short-list of companies would be made in mid-2013 and the contract awarded in 2014, with construction expected to take six years.

Mr Dangerfield said tolling, to be investigated next year, would offset annual costs and meant other projects could be progressed.

The Greens' transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said a PPP was an expensive form of borrowing and an "irresponsible use of taxpayer money."

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