Plans for a long-awaited major new highway north of Wellington are back to square one with construction now unlikely for another decade.
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) announced this week it had re-evaluated the proposed $270 million, four-lane Petone-Grenada highway, a project that has been in the works for a quarter-century that was paused by the Labour government in 2017.
The agency says the need for the highway still exists but that it will be redesigned and will not be reconsidered until 2028.
"In line with the Government's vision for our transport network, the redesigned project will be required to provide improved transport choice for these east-west journeys,” says Emma Speight, the agency's director of regional relationships.
The Petone-Grenada highway was planned to line up with the Kapiti Expressway and the Transmission Gully motorway.
After an independent review of the planning to date found the highway could fail in an earthquake, the project was delayed.
The review also determined it would have a significant environmental impact and cost up to four times the expected price to construct.
NZTA said the project would be redesigned with a focus on the long-term viability of the highway.
Then, in 2018, following the government’s reshuffling of priorities, the Petone-Grenada highway was deemed of lower importance.
Speight says the agency would now need to formulate a new business case for the project.
"We've also identified some improvements we could make to the existing transport network to improve resilience in the short-term," she says.
"We appreciate people's patience as we've worked through this important re-evaluation process to ensure our projects align with Government priorities.”
Road Transport Forum chief executive Nick Leggett says the re-evaluated date represents an "abdication of responsibility by the Government".
"Petone to Grenada is the critical link going east to west in Wellington. It's important to people in the Hutt Valley and to the industrial area of Gracefield as a link to SH1," he says.
"It had the highest cost-benefit ratio of any roading project in the country and is of critical importance post-Transmission Gully to relieve congestion at Ngauranga Gorge, not only for passenger vehicles but for the road freight sector as they move goods in and out of the Wellington economy."
Posted on Thursday 11th April 2019
Ten-Year Minimum Delay for Petone-Grenada Highway
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