After decades of debate and the past 10 years of indecision, the Minister of Transport, Steven Joyce (who spent his teenage years growing up on that slice of SH1 at the Mana Esplanade) kept his word and made a decision within 10 months!
Transmission Gully will upgrade State Highway 1 between Wellington and Levin, reducing congestion, improving safety and supporting economic growth. This decision comes more than sixty years after the route was originally proposed, so it is great that debate on how to improve access to the north is finally over, and that the upgrade can begin.
Of course I understand that there is rarely a perfect answer, and 100% agreement is impossible. So there will still be those who are not happy. However, I think it is time to focus on the best overall as determined by the years of discussion and the screed of discussion and submission documents. We need to now turn our attention to getting the best job done within the decisions that have been made.
The gully will be developed as a four lane expressway, with the route being completed in sections over the next ten years. This will separate those who are travelling from Wellington to Levin from the local traffic; once the gully route is complete, those travelling along it can expect to save between 23 and 33 minutes of travel during peak times and between 17 and 23 minutes during quieter periods. Having a home in Titahi Bay I’m really looking forward to the lower travel times, it will save me the amount of time it would take to prepare a lasagne for dinner!
The travel times won’t only benefit those who live locally, but will allow the five million people who use the Wellington Airport every year, and the more than seven million tonnes of long distance freight, to move more efficiently through the region.
With more than 4,500 submissions provided to the NZTA Board, they were well informed of the views the Kāpiti community had on the options available. In the long term, we see Transmission Gully as the best option in terms of security, time savings and a lower impact during construction. The roading upgrade will also create a significant number of jobs.
The benefits to the coastal suburbs of Mana such as Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay and Paekākāariki are huge, with large reductions in community severance and traffic noise, and improved air quality expected once the upgrade is complete.
The NZ Transport Agency expects Transmission Gully to take ten years to complete, that’s why it’s great that a decision has finally been made and the decades of uncertainty are over.