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



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

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