Wellington’s Transmission Gully Go Ahead


A major roading announcement for Wellington this morning.

After decades of debate, Wellington will get its long-awaited Transmission Gully route as part of a $2.2 billion upgrade of State Highway 1 from Wellington to Levin.

The plans will see a four-lane expressway developed in three stages, with the entire route substantially progressed within the next ten years.

Tolling is an option being considered.

And Steven Joyce has welcomed the announcement of NZTA’s preferred corridor for the upgrade of State Highway 1 along the Kapiti Coast.  He says the decision to progress the Sandhills Expressway will bring long-awaited certainty for local communities .


The phases for the full corridor are:

  • Phase 1 : Progress Ngauranga Gorge to Aotea Quay and Basin Reserve within Wellington; at the same time as progressing the Peka Peka to Otaki section and the Mackays to Peka Peka Section.
  • Phase 2: Progress Linden to Mackays Crossing (Transmission Gully).
  • Phase 3: Progress the remaining projects as follows:  Mt Victoria Tunnel duplication,  Otaki to Levin; and  Terrace Tunnel duplication.

The final elements and timing of each phase will be dependent on design and consenting issues. Individual projects may move forward or backward in the programme depending on construction readiness.

The Levin to Wellington route has had a detailed evaluation of a number of sub-projects including the Western Corridor study, Ngauranga to Airport, and the Levin and Otaki Bypasses. The next three years will largely be spent planning the route and completing enabling works.

The upgraded route from Wellington Airport to Levin was expected to save drivers between 23 and 33 minutes during peak times and between 17 and 23 minutes during the day.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce acted as Santa today in announcing the project as one of the Government’s roads of national significance. He said: “The Government’s decision to invest nearly $11 billion in new state highway infrastructure over the next 10 years will ensure funding is available for the gully project.

“The gully route is the best long-term option for the State Highway 1 road of national significance between Wellington and Levin in terms of route security, journey time savings and minimising impact both during construction and in the longer term.

“Proponents of the coastal route generally support it because of perceived lower costs. However the latest cost estimates show a similar cost profile between the two options with bypasses at Pukerua Bay, Plimmerton and Paremata being particularly costly because of the built-up nature of those areas, and the widening of Centennial Highway also being problematic.

“Transmission Gully will bring benefits to the coastal communities of Mana, Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki through reduced community severance and traffic noise, as well as improved air quality. It would also provide an improved east/west connection, with a better and more direct link to State Highway 58, the Hutt Valley and the Wairarapa.”

NZTA Board Chair Brian Roche said  the choice to progress Transmission Gully rather than the Coastal Highway Upgrade as part of the Wellington Northern Corridor was considered very carefully before a final decision was made.

“In the end it was clear that Transmission Gully was the better choice. It is less expensive, it will provide a safer four-lane route, it’s better for local communities and better for the environment, and it will reduce travel times between Kapiti and Wellington.”

Mr Roche said the Board had also chosen a preferred option for the Kapiti expressway route, another key part of the Wellington Northern Corridor. After careful consideration the Board had selected the Sandhills (Western Link) route as the preferred option. “

We are keenly aware that this is a very significant decision for the Kapiti community, and this was not an easy decision for the Board. The Sandhills option is the least expensive, it will deliver the best results alongside continuing investment in local roads and public transport, it will require the purchase of the smallest number of private homes, and it also avoids town centres.

“After carefully considering all three options and the feedback from the community on each we came to the conclusion that this route best balances the needs of the Kapiti community with those of the Wellington region and the country as a whole. This new route will help ensure that Kapiti continues to contribute to and benefit from economic growth in the Wellington region.”

Mr Roche said the four-lane corridor would deliver a wide range of benefits including:

  • Support for a regional population which is expected to increase by 65,000 over the next 20 years
  • More efficient movement of increasing freight volumes through the region Improved access to Wellington’s port, CBD, interisland ferry terminals, airport and hospital
  • Relief of severe congestion
  • Improved road safety
  • More reliable journey times.

Mr Roche said the NZTA would initially concentrate on planning all the projects within the 100km Levin to Wellington Airport corridor, with the focus for the next three years on designating land for the improvements, and providing certainty about what is to be done and when.

“This process will include public consultation and other opportunities for people to help us determine the final shape of these projects, with some discussions happening as early as next year.”

Priority would be given to projects which address key bottlenecks first, easing congestion and creating capacity where it is most needed while other projects in the corridor are prepared for construction.

Steven Joyce,  says the decision to progress the Sandhills Expressway will bring long-awaited certainty for local communities and advances plans for the development of a long-term corridor for State Highway 1 through the district.

The Sandhills option will see the State Highway expressway built along the currently designated western link route, with the current state highway becoming a local road through the district.

Mr Joyce says this will preserve the townships of both Waikanae and Paraparaumu and will ensure local railway stations continue to be easily accessible for local rail commuters.

The Sandhills Expressway is expected to be built for between $380 and $500 million, with a much smaller number of properties (20 - 50) affected than would have been the case with either of the two other corridor options considered and consulted on publicly.

The Transmission Gully action group’s spokesman says this ends decades of uncertainty:

“Our capital city will have roading resilience for the first time in its history and not have to rely on the fragile coastal route in the event of a civil defence emergency. It’s great that the Minister has respected the wishes of the many thousands of submitters who a few years ago, gave the Regional Land Transport Committee a mandate to identify TGM as the only safe option for an upgrade of SH1. Now let’s get it built!”

Labour Transport spokesman Darren Hughes welcomes the news.

He says there has been a long history of advocacy for the Transmission Gully route from both sides of politics so it’s great to see that hard work has paid off. “As always though the devil will be in the detail and some questions remain about the timeframe for completing the project and how exactly it will be funded.

“Tolling is a reality, but at what level is a question still left unanswered.”




  1. Greg Bodnar says:

    I think it’s time to leave the country. Europe sounds promising.

  2. M P says:

    Bye bye Basin Reserve, bastards!

  3. dsadas says:


  4. Jeremy Harris says:

    I guess when I said if I got sick of Auckland it was good to know I didn’t have to leave NZ to live in a city that focusses on liveability, walkability and PT I was wrong…

  5. Joshua says:

    Great decision, although not a PT project, one I highly agree on because of the obvious benefits.

  6. CieraT says:

    I don’t buy those reasons - aren’t these pretty much the same reason Government and NZTA have invested all that money into Wellington Regional Rail project etc??? Seen in this lights, its more like overkill IMHO.

    $2billion is way to much - no doubt the true cost will be higher if full (lifetime) cost is taken into account! Unfortunately, the constructors work on a cost plus basis, so no real incentive to make every dollar squeak if the money is there :(

  7. Anthony says:

    Third motorway? yay!
    distory basin reserve? NAY.

  8. Joshua says:

    CieraT - with the contractors comment you are obviously living in the past. Major projects now days are alliance projects where there are more incentives to actually be under budget. Now days the Contracting Company/Consultancy Company and the NZTA or Client all make and loose profit on these projects, e.g if it goes over budget they start losing money instead of gaining money. So that reasoning you are putting forward is nonsense.

    Also creating a transport system means we have to cater for both private vehicle and PT so improvements to both networks are needed,

    The only downside I can see with this project is the Basin Reserve, hopefully they can mitigate the effects of this as I don’t agree with distroying historic places.


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