Transmission Gully tolling unlikely

Stuff.co.nz | 28 November 2014

 
Cannons Creek bridge

A screengrab from the Transmission Gully fly through video, showing the planned Cannon's Creek bridge looking south towards Wellington.

Tolling the Transmission Gully motorway is not being "actively considered", according to the Government, which appears to be lukewarm on the idea.

New Transport Minister Simon Bridges told The Dominion Post this week that, apart from the Tauranga Eastern Link motorway, "there are no other roads, at this time, where tolling is under consideration".

He did not rule out investigating a toll for the 27-kilometre link between Porirua and Paekakariki at some point in the future.  But he said the Government tended to approve tolls only if doing so would speed up building the road.

Tolling is unlikely to speed up the $850 million Gully motorway.  In order to bring the project forward, the Government instead signed a public-private partnership deal with a consortium known as the Wellington Gateway Partnership, led by Australian company Leighton Contractors.

Getting the private sector to finance and build Transmission Gully is expected to shave $25m off the construction price and bring forward completion by a year.

The Government will pay off the motorway in annual instalments over 25 years once it opens in 2020.  The repayments are expected to be about $125m a year after interest, inflation and operation costs are factored in.

Any decision to introduce a toll will be made by the Cabinet after public consultation by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

The agency would not say yesterday how much investigation it had already done on whether the motorway should be user-pays.

Chief executive Geoff Dangerfield would confirm only that the Gully was a potential candidate for tolling.

Porirua City councillor John Burke said he had huge reservations about tolling Transmission Gully because it could force motorists back on to the roads it was meant to relieve.

"That would be completely self-defeating."

He was not aware of any conversations between the Transport Agency and city council about a toll.

Green Party transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said the private sector would not be building the motorway unless there was a profit to be had at taxpayers' expense.

If no toll was introduced, the Government would have to find the money some other way, which could mean more petrol price rises, she said.

Automobile Association motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said not tolling Transmission Gully would encourage more motorists to use it as their preferred route.

The Dominion Post