Work resumes on Transmission Gully, NZTA assesses lockdown fallout

Author
Georgina Campbell, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 3 Sep 2021, 8:35PM
Transmission Gully was meant to open on September 27. (Photo / Supplied)
Transmission Gully was meant to open on September 27. (Photo / Supplied)

Work resumes on Transmission Gully, NZTA assesses lockdown fallout

Author
Georgina Campbell, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 3 Sep 2021, 8:35PM

Work has resumed on Transmission Gully after Wellington moved to alert level 3, but it's still too early to say what the impact of lockdown will be on the $1.25 billion road's opening date.

The four-lane motorway is being built through a public-private partnership (PPP), the Wellington Gateway Partnership (WGP), with CPB Contractors and HEB Construction subcontracted to carry out the design and construction.

The most recent Covid-19 restrictions are the latest blow to the troubled and long-awaited road.

During lockdown only essential activities were allowed to be carried out on site to ensure security, safety and environmental protection.

Yesterday, Waka Kotahi NZTA advised state highway works in Wellington and Wairarapa were resuming.

The WGP said its subcontractor had resumed work on some activities including surface paving, material supply, drainage, barriers and planting.

Assurances were made all work was being carried out under strict health and safety protocols.

Truck and trailer units parked alongside a section of the Transmission Gully project on day three of lockdown. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Truck and trailer units parked alongside a section of the Transmission Gully project on day three of lockdown. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Waka Kotahi infrastructure delivery regional manager Jetesh Bhula said getting back into working on-site would be different for each project and timings would depend on the nature and complexity of work sites.

"Some on-site activity will be able to resume straight away, while other sites and projects may take time to be fully operational.

"Infrastructure plays a vital role in the economic recovery of New Zealand so it's important that work continues, but we won't compromise on the health and safety of our workers and road users, which is our top priority."

Transmission Gully was due to open on September 27, but that will now almost certainly not be the case.

The builder was going to be liable for $250,000-a-day in damages if the road didn't open on time.

Furthermore, $7.5 million of a $145.5m settlement covering the cost impacts of Covid-19 was not going to be paid out if the road was late.

But alert levels 3 and 4 are considered a force majeure event. This relieves an affected party from contractual obligations because of an event outside of its control.

A Waka Kotahi spokesperson said the transport agency expected the recent lockdown would have an impact on Transmission Gully's opening date.

"However, it is too early to say exactly what that impact will be."

NZTA did not answer questions about what stage any negotiations were at regarding a new opening date or damages.

"Waka Kotahi will continue to work closely with Wellington Gateway Partnership and the builder of Transmission Gully to understand the full impacts. We will not be providing any further comment", the spokesperson said.