WGP named front-runner for highway

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 07:38 04/12/2013

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If tolls are charged on Wellington's $1.3 billion Transmission Gully road, the Government will collect them, not the consortium to build and run the expressway.

It was announced on Monday that the Wellington Gateway Partnership (WGP), a public-private partnership (PPP), would enter preferred bidder negotiations to build and run the road for 25 years.

New Zealand Transport Agency spokesman Anthony Frith said no decision had been made on charging motorists a toll to use the 27-kilometre four-lane expressway from Linden to MacKays Crossing, near Paekakariki, scheduled to open in 2020. "NZTA is currently investigating the need to toll Transmission Gully in order to assist in the payment of the construction and ongoing maintenance and operation of the road.

"The PPP procurement model to be used for Transmission Gully does not depend on tolling. If the decision is made to toll, the revenue will be collected by the NZTA and not the consortium that has been awarded the PPP contract."

The WGP is led by Australian company Leighton Contractors, owned by ASX- listed Leighton Holdings.

WGPsaid yesterday it expected the value of the Transmission Gully project to the company "to be in excess of NZ$800 million".

A key component of the project is the design and delivery of 29 bridges, a number of complex interchanges and the movement of more than 6 m square- metres of earthworks. The road would also be built to high levels of seismic resilience. Work is scheduled to start next July.

ACC is also part of the consortium. Spokeswoman Stephanie Melville declined to say what percentage share ACC is likely to hold in the WGP. "But ACC expects to hold a significant proportion of the equity in the project."

ACC believes Transmission Gully is a good asset for its investment portfolio and will provide stable, long-term cashflows. "ACC sees a natural alignment between its role as the national accident insurer and as part of a consortium committed to building a road with high and sustained standards of safety," she said. Fairfax NZ

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- Taranaki Daily News

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