Part 1 of this series summarised the history and progress of the 4 RONS projects in Auckland and the Waikato, while this post will cover Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch.
5. Tauranga Eastern Corridor
The Tauranga Eastern Link was another of the faster moving RONS projects and is only the second RoNS to be fully completed. This was a 21km, $455 million project that created a new offline motorway to the east of Tauranga, bypassing Te Puke. Around 15km of the project is also tolled with light vehicles paying $2 and heavy vehicles $5. The most recent numbers (for 2017) show that around 10,000 vehicles a day are using the road. It was also one of the first to have a 110km/h speed limit applied.
This project started construction in 2010 and was completed in August 2015.
Total Cost: $455 million
Road Length completed: 21km
Road Length under construction: 0km
Road Length not yet started construction: 0km
Verdict: design, consenting and construction all moved relatively quickly, meaning this was one of the earliest RONS projects to entirely finish.
6. Wellington Northern Corridor (Levin to Wellington) – SH1
The Wellington Northern Corridor consisted of series of motorway projects designed to create a near continuous motorway from Wellington Airport to Levin. It can split into two distinct sections – Tawa to Levin, and the City Centre projects and each have had quite different outcomes.
Tawa to Levin
The Tawa to Levin sections consist of the following projects:
- Transmission Gully – $850 million (PPP) – this is a 27km motorway that creates a new inland northern entry to Wellington. This was also the first transport project to progress as a Public Private Partnership. Construction started in September 2014, with opening scheduled for 2020. However last year it was announced that the amount of earthworks needed, was underestimated by nearly 50%. It’s now estimated that by the time it’s all complete there will have been almost 9 million m³ of earthworks – more than any other roading project in NZ.
- Kapiti Expressway
- Mackays to Peka Peka – $630 million – an 18km section of expressway that started construction in December 2013 and was opened in February 2017. It’s had a few problems since then too with parts needing to be re-sealed and noise issues for neighbours.
- Peka Peka to Otaki – $330 million – A 13km extension to the expressway, this section started construction in July 2017, with completion estimated in late 2020 or early 2021.
- Otaki to Levin – this section has progressed very slowly. In 2012 the NZTA announced they would scale back plans to an upgraded 2-lane state highway but last year went back to a 4-lane option. Earlier this year they released some short-listed route options but as of yet, no route has yet been selected. Recent news reports have suggested 2022 is the earliest construction could start, so that would mean an earliest possible opening date of around 2026. The latest price released was between $690 million & $1.05 billion.
The sections will deliver about 84 kilometres of expressway for a cost of between $2.5 and $2.8 billion.
The City Centre projects in the Wellington Northern Corridor aimed to upgrade around 5 kilometres of road to create a 4-lane highway from Wellington Airport to Wellington City Centre. They originally consisted of following projects:
- Ruahine and Wellington Street widening
- Duplication of Mount Victoria tunnel
- Basin Reserve flyover
- Duplication of the Terrace Tunnel
The Basin Reserve flyover was the first of the projects to progress to Board of Inquiry Stage, however the BOI denied NZTA consent for the project in July 2014. An appeal to the High Court by NZTA failed. The project was officially scrapped in September 2015, leaving nothing to show for $12 million spent on design & consenting. The failure of the flyover to get consent, caused the whole Wellington City Centre programme to be upended. Here’s what NZTA have to say about what is happening now:
In the wake of the Basin Bridge decision an alliance has been established between Wellington City Council, the Transport Agency and Greater Wellington Regional Council to develop an integrated multi-modal solution for Wellington’s transport needs. The focus is the area from Ngauranga Gorge to the Airport, encompassing the Wellington Urban Motorway and connections to Wellington Hospital and eastern and southern suburbs.
Called Let’s Get Wellington Moving this alliance has a programme to develop and consult on recommended scenario/s by early 2017.
While this is being progressed, all previously planned improvements on key parts of the network have been placed on hold, including the Mt Victoria Tunnel Duplication project.
Let’s Get Wellington Moving again came out suggesting large scale roading projects however the public have continued to show strong support for PT, walking and cycling improvements instead. It’s not known when we’ll hear more.
Total Cost: Tawa to Levin – $2.5-2.8 billion, City Centre – Unknown
Road Length completed: 18km
Road Length under construction: 40km
Road Length not yet started construction: 31km
Verdict: Only one of the eight initial projects is actually open with another two under construction. The city centre area has seen no progress due to the failure of the Basin Reserve flyover project. Clearly the biggest failure of the RONS projects so far.
7. Christchurch Motorway projects
The Christchurch Motorway projects are a series of projects aimed at improving the northern & southern access to Christchurch, as well as providing an improved bypass to the west of the city.
The projects consist of the following:
- Christchurch Northern Corridor – $240 million – At around 7km in length, it provides a new northern arterial access to Christchurch, as well as a new link to QEII Drive. Construction started in 2016 and will be complete in 2020/21.
- Christchurch Western Corridor – The western corridor projects consisted of six different projects that aim to create a 4-lane expressway along the north-western edge of Christchurch. There were three major projects which were as follows:
- Western Belfast Bypass – $122 million – A 5km bypass this started construction in 2015 and opened late last year.
- Russley Road (adjacent to the airport) – $112 million – this involves building a large flyover at the main intersection outside the airport. This project started construction in 2015 and is due to be completed in early 2018.
- There were also 4 minor projects (each under $50 million), 3 of which were constructed between 2011 and 2013, with one due to complete later this year.
- Christchurch Southern Corridor. This consists of two stages to create a motorway between Rolleston and Addington:
- Addington to Prebbleton – $140 million – This 10.5km long project included a mixture of upgrading the existing motorway west of the city, as well as building a new offline section. This project started construction in late 2010 and finished in December 2012.
- Prebbleton to Rolleston – $195 million – this will extend the motorway a further 13 kilometres to the southwest to Rolleston. This started work in late 2016 and is likely to finish in early 2020.
Total Cost: Overall the Christchurch motorway projects will deliver around 51 kilometres of new & upgraded motorways for just over $900 million.
Road Length completed: 28km
Road Length under construction: 23km
Road Length not yet started construction: 0km
Verdict: Reasonable progress had been made with many sections open, however like many other RoNS we will have to wait until 2020 for widespread completion.
The total cost of RONS projects that are either complete or under construction is $8.8-9.6 billion – depending on if you count Auckland’s Northern Corridor project. This has delivered around 250 kilometres of new or significantly upgraded roads. They have an average cost of around $35 million per kilometre.
Of the 7 RONS projects initially outlined, only 2 are entirely complete (Victoria Park & Tauranga Eastern Motorway). Three more will be completed by 2020 (Western Ring Route, Waikato Expressway & Christchurch Motorways). With the change in government policy and a shift to focusing on safety improvements, we’re unlikely to see any of the projects not yet started being completed. Warkworth to Wellsford almost certainly won’t as safety improvements have been budged for as part of the Regional Land Transport Plan process. In Wellington the city centre projects are unlikely to be completed as anticipated due to the failure of the Basin Flyover and it’s unclear on the future of Otaki to Levin. To complete those remaining projects could cost up to $5 billion.