Transmission Gully Motorway
The Transmission Gully Motorway is a proposed
motorwayin Wellington, New Zealand.
It would replace the current State Highway 1 along the coast road between the
Kapiti Coast, Pukerua Bayand Porirua. From SH1 at MacKays Crossing, north of Paekakariki, it would rise steeply to the Wainui Saddle and follow Transmission Gully down to Porirua Harbour's Pauatahanui Inlet. It would continue south around the outer edge of the Porirua urban area, at one point crossing a 300-metre-long and 90-metre-high bridge. It would rejoin SH 1 at the boundary of Porirua and Tawa. It would be around 27 km long, with a maximum gradient of about 8.3%.
Proposals have existed for some time, but it is only in the past few years that serious steps have been taken towards construction. The Greater Wellington Regional Council, in preparing its Western Corridor Plan, initially rejected Transmission Gully as unaffordable, preferring to upgrade the existing coastal route, but changed its position after public consultation.
The most recent costing of the project is NZ$955 million, and a more detailed estimate is currently being prepared. Full funding has not yet been secured.
The construction of the Transmission Gully Motorway is controversial, and has been a topic of considerable debate in Wellington politics for some time.
Need for the project
Supporters claim that it will improve access to Wellington city, arguing that the existing coastal route is too congested, is accident-prone, and could be damaged in a serious earthquake.
Peter Dunne, MP for Ohariu-Belmont, says that " [i] mproving Wellington city's northern access and egress is a vital key to the future economic performance and prosperity of the whole region, and the Transmission Gully highway is a vital link in that chain". [ [http://www.unitedfuture.org.nz/press/show_item.php?t=0&i=1570 Prendergast needs to move on (United Future press release)] ]
Opponents of Transmission Gully say that there are better ways to improve access to Wellington. Some suggest that the existing coastal route should be upgraded, rather than building a completely new route. This was the original recommendation of the Regional Council, and was put forward as the primary alternative to building Transmission Gully. Public submissions to the Council were in favour of Transmission Gully, and the Council has changed its stance in response. Opponents of upgrading the coastal route say that doing so would cause significant disruption to the communities it passes through, whereas Transmission Gully avoids urban areas. The Mayor of Porirua,
Jenny Brash, has said that an upgrade would generate large numbers of complaints from Porirua residents, and would therefore have difficulty receiving resource consent. [ [http://www.pcc.govt.nz/GetImage.aspx?ImageID=3794d4c0-8d10-4047-a055-aad1cff9c459 Porirua City Council submission on Transmission Gully] ] Others, such as the Green Party and the lobby group Option 3, believe that the money would be better spent on improving Wellington's public transport, particularly the existing rail line. They argue that the original choice between building Transmission Gully or upgrading the coastal route was a false dichotomy, and that in reality neither option is necessary or desirable.
Some opponents of the Transmission Gully project believe that its overall cost is too high, and that the region has insufficient funds to spend on it. The Mayor of Wellington,
Kerry Prendergast, has described the project as "unaffordable". [ [http://www.stuff.co.nz/3999701a11.html Transmission Gully unaffordable - Wellington mayor (Dominion Post)] ] It has been suggested that making Transmission Gully a toll roadwould help resolve this problem, although no decision has yet been taken on the matter, and tolls would only cover a fraction of the funds necessary to build the highway.
Technical and environmental issues
There have been claims that the route of Transmission Gully is problematic — for example, Option 3 describes it as unsuitable due to steep gradients, environmental damage and earthquake hazards. The route passes near Pauatahanui Inlet, an environmentally sensitive wetland area.
List of motorways and expressways in New Zealand
* [http://www.transit.govt.nz/projects/view_project.jsp?content_type=project&=edit&primary_key=208&action=edit Transit New Zealand page]
* [http://www.gw.govt.nz/story_images/3787_AdoptedWesternCo_s7591.pdf Wellington Regional Council's adopted Western Corridor Plan] (PDF)
* [http://www.option3.org.nz/ Option 3, a pressure group opposed to the Transmission Gully Motorway]
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