17 Apr 2024

Transmission Gully review ongoing two years after it opened

8:00 pm on 17 April 2024
Transmission Gully

Transmission Gully was officially opened on 30 March 2022. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

A government-ordered review into Transmission Gully motorway is still going on, two years after the road near Wellington opened and with the project's finalisation still in limbo.

The motorway's construction costs blew out, its operation has upset environment regulators and the wrap-up of it is being fought over in court.

A post-construction review into the build's outcomes and value for money was meant to be finished two years ago.

Instead, the Infrastructure Commission Te Waihanga is holding on to it.

"We continue in discussions with our minister and NZTA about it," Te Waihanga told RNZ.

An interim review in 2021 found serious planning flaws at the motorway north of Wellington.

The trouble now is legal fights over whether the project is entirely completed or not, tangling up Waka Kotahi, the construction alliance and engineers.

However, NZTA said in its annual review it had expected the review to be released by now - February or March, it said.

"NZTA thoroughly supports ongoing learning on large project planning and delivery through review of what has worked well and what could have been improved," it said.

Oddly, Greater Wellington Regional Council, the regulator over the motorway's environmental impacts both during the build and now, has been left out.

"Greater Wellington was not part of the review undertaken by ... Te Waihanga," it told RNZ on Wednesday.

This is even though the main ongoing impacts of the road are on surroundings streams, the inlet and wildlife, and despite many questions raised for years about whether the motorway was given an easy environmental pass.

The council has spent months now investigating "potential breaches" of consent conditions by the road's operations.

It is slow going. It switched out of looking at a possible prosecution last August.

"We had the charges dismissed based on legal advice that we could achieve a better result for the environment by pursuing an Enforcement Order rather than trying to prosecute," it said at the time.

However, it has yet to apply for an order.

"We are working closely with the parties involved in this enforcement order to ensure that the environmental outcomes for this project will be achieved."

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