Auckland to Whangarei motorway on the cards


A motorway from Auckland to Whangarei has been flagged by Transport Minister Simon Bridges. Speaking at today’s sod turning to mark the start of the $709.5 million Puhoi to Warkworth motorway, Bridges said over time the motorway would extend to Whangarei, a distance of 162km.

Prime Minister John Key and Bridges turned the first sod during a tour of roading projects north of Auckland, including a new roundabout in the township of Waimaukau. Bridges said the Government had pledged to build a four-lane road of national significance from Puhoi to Wellsford and the entire corridor to Whangarei was very important.

“A lot of people talk about the Brynderwyns and the need for a very strong solution there. “You have got Northport up closer to Whangarei, which is again justification for doing a much more significant job all the way. “Whether that’s to road of national significance standard or something different to that I couldn’t say at the moment … but as Transport Minister I’m very attracted to progress more significant road improvements, not just through to Wellsford but up to Whangarei,” Bridges said.

He said realistically it was not five or six years away, but probably a decade of more away. New Zealand Transport Agency chairman Chris Moller said the agency was looking at the Whangarei to Auckland connection but a motorway could be 30 years away. The Puhoi to Warkworth motorway extends 18.5km over difficult terrain from the Johnstone Hills tunnels just south of Puhoi to just north of Warkworth.

sssCritics have nicknamed it the “holiday highway” to the intense annoyance of Northland leaders. The new motorway will have two lanes in each direction divided by a central median with a safety barrier. Both Bridges and Rodney MP Mark Mitchell stressed the safety benefits of the new motorway. Said Mitchell: “Safety is definitely a No 1 concern. Unfortunately the piece of road we have to use at the moment comes with hazards and we have too many serious injuries and fatal accidents on that piece of road.”

The project is the second public private partnership (PPP) for a state highway, after the Transmission Gully motorway in Wellington. Under the latest PPP, the Northern Express Group will finance, design, construct, manage and maintain the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway for the 25 years following a five-year build. The motorway is due for completion in 2021. Incentives built into the contract will ensure the motorway is one of the safest in New Zealand with lower grades and be more resilient to natural disasters and road closures.

Bridges said a decision had not been made on whether to toll the new Puhoi to Warkworth motorway. Route protection of the next stage of the motorway from Warkworth to Wellsford is underway. The NZ Transport Agency is planning to release an indicative route early next year. The Automobile Association is delighted that construction is officially underway on the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway extension. “Many people from outside Northland don’t understand what a vital step forward this is for us,” AA Northland District Chairman Steve Westgate said. “It’s not just about safer, quicker and more reliable journeys, it’s about the economic opportunities that come with it. This project will improve our connections with Auckland, New Zealand and the world.”


  • Bernard Orsman
  • NZ Herald


Transmission Gulley Update

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has signalled Wellington’s planned $1 billion Transmission Gully project would be “ideal for a Public Private Partnership”.

Brownlee has asked the NZTA to report to him on options for funding the planned 27km link between MacKay’s Crossing and Linden, which will provide a more direct route for getting out of the capital on State Highway 1.

“Transmission Gully is consented so it can move forward much more quickly and is ideal for a PPP,” Brownlee told the Herald.

“I’ve asked NZTA to investigate and they are putting together some big documents and I expect them to come back probably in October.”

In June, an independent board of inquiry granted consent for the new inland highway, which will shave considerable time from peak-time journeys between Kapiti and Wellington. NZTA expects to begin construction in 2015 and complete it by 2021.

Brownlee sidestepped questions on whether the Government would consider Chinese capital participation through an alliance for Transmission Gully – something that has been mooted in infrastructure circles.

The Transport Minister also said he has asked NZTA for advice on different funding options for major roads.

Government revenues have dropped in response to the greater fuel efficiency in the modern New Zealand fleet. NZTA is expected to report back in October.

The Herald last week reported that the Government would remove the limits on NZTA’s ability to borrow to ease a funding squeeze that threatened to delay the $9 billion roads of national significance programme.

The Transport Agency – which is funded via road user charges, fuel taxes, and vehicle registration and license fees – is currently permitted to borrow money to “manage its cashflow” or cover short-term funding shortages.

Brownlee told the Herald the borrowing ability was capped at $250 million. But he has introduced an amendment to the Land Transport Management Act that would remove the limit and allow the agency to borrow “to fund future land transport projects, subject to the agreement”.

The Government is also preparing to make a decision on whether the Clifford Bay ferry terminal in Marlborough should go ahead.

A business case is being prepared, and Brownlee expects the Government to release its position in late September or early October.

Source: NZ Herald

PPP’s to be looked at seriously

ANZ’s David Green believes the Christchurch rebuild will provide plenty of opportunities for New Zealand companies to gain the confidence to scale-up and deliver projects at pace.

“It will be a live environment where we can look at developing new ways of getting projects off the ground faster in New Zealand and create financing solutions around them that facilitate that.”

Green, managing director for Institutional ANZ in New Zealand, says most of the Treasury focus on the development of public private partnerships (PPPs) in New Zealand has been for central government-supported projects such as schools, prisons and hospitals. He says the Christchurch redevelopment will also create opportunities to think about how local Government can build civic assets involving the private sector.

“It’s not just the benefits of getting Christchurch up on its feet and the value that creates for the economy, but also as a proving ground for how we might apply solutions to other regions to transform local government infrastructures.

Like other banks and infrastructure funders, ANZ has been grappling with the Government’s initial foray into the PPP space. “This year we have seen PPPs, as a form of funding for public infrastructure, become a reality for the Hobsonville schools, and the Wiri prison,” says Green.

“PPPs are not just about financing. They are about procurement of services. Beyond that we have seen they are highlighting possible benefits for operating infrastructure which can be applied to replicate best practice across the public sector.”

Now PPPs are a reality here, Green believes Treasury needs to develop a streamlined process so smaller projects can be delivered under that umbrella without becoming cost-prohibitive. “We need to see a framework that allows faster rollout given the costs of participation for equity financiers, construction companies and the other service providers for PPP solutions.

“We need to find a process that can be standardised to reduce the cost of participation for those willing to pitch.”

Green says there is significant offshore interest – particularly from Asia – in the Christchurch rebuild. ANZ has a memorandum of understanding with China Development Bank and Green says there is definite interest out of China in investing in New Zealand infrastructure. “Given we are a large source of food for them and they understand the dynamics of our economy and its potential, it is natural for that market to follow those trade flows back to source and look for investment opportunities.”

The challenge will be finding defined projects investors can get their teeth into that also meet their own criteria. This could involve the way the project is delivered through to the involvement of investors, service providers or construction firms from their home country.

Green says one of the good things about the Christchurch redevelopment is it is creating scale and a reason for not just financiers but providers of equity to come down here to explore opportunities.

“The next phase is working out how to get engaged as either part of a joint venture or consortium or aligning themselves with other parties.”

Green says there also needs to be more focus on a funding solution for delivering transport projects in New Zealand.

He suggests we may need to look at potential funding models such as tolling regimes or other ways to incentivise private involvement or bring forward projects.

Source: NZ Herald, Fran O’Sullivan

Christchurch Hospital project biggest in NZ history

The biggest public health project in New Zealand’s history has been given the green light.

While funding and timeframe details were vague, Canterbury District Health Board chief executive David Meates described the announcement as the ‘‘best news we could have wished for’’.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee yesterday announced Government approval of the redevelopment of Christchurch and Burwood hospitals. It involves building operating theatres at Christchurch Hospital and an expanded intensive care unit and emergency department, and a purpose-designed space for children.

Brownlee said the Cabinet had approved $10 million to support final business cases for both hospitals. The money would also help fast-track the planning and design phases of a specialist centre for older people’s health at Burwood Hospital. The project is expected to total about $600m but a final price tag would be announced in December.

Meates said the backing would allow the health board to finally make decisions on quake-damaged buildings.

The earthquakes caused more than $100m damage to hospital facilities around Canterbury. Redevelopment had been in the pipeline since about 2007 but the quakes had ‘‘accelerated the urgency’’ for new buildings, Meates said.

Last year, Health Minister Tony Ryall asked the board to ‘‘explore all its funding options’’ including the possibility of a public-private-partnership (PPP). However, both Brownlee and Ryall yesterday said PPPs were no longer being considered.

‘‘Looking at who is interested and where the money is going to come from could add another 12 months onto the process and there’s no sense in mucking around,’’ Brownlee said.

The project would be led by a team of five, including board chairman Bruce Matheson, but the other four people had not yet been decided.

Labour health spokeswoman Maryan Street said Government backing would allow the board to ‘‘look to the future and move on’’. She was also ‘‘very happy’’ the PPP idea had been abandoned.

‘‘It could have complicated and delayed the process.’’

The Canterbury Hospital Medical Staff Association also praised the announcement.

Spokeswoman and senior doctor at Christchurch Hospital Ruth Spearing said: ‘‘It’s vital that there are no further delays to the process.’’


  • 5 Sep 2012
  • The Press
  • Georgina Stylianou
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