Transport Minister Steven Joyce has joined the NZ Transport Agency in unveiling plans for a $2.2 billion strategic upgrade of State Highway 1 from Wellington Airport to Levin, including Transmission Gully.
The plans will see a four-lane expressway developed in three stages, with the entire route substantially progressed within the next ten years.
The phases for the full corridor are:
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.
Progress Linden to Mackays Crossing (Transmission Gully).
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.
Mr Joyce says development of the route, identified early this year as a Road of National Significance, will reduce congestion, improve safety and support economic growth both regionally and nationally.
Once complete, the upgraded route from Wellington Airport to Levin is expected to deliver travel time savings of between 23 and 33 minutes during peak times and between 17 and 23 minutes during the day.
"Improved access to areas north of Wellington for commuters and freight will aid the development of New Zealand's economic growth by catering for growth in the lower North Island and improving links to other major urban centres," says Mr Joyce.
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.
By ranking and sequencing each of the components on the Levin to Wellington corridor, an important route programme has been constructed. This concentrates on solving each of the problem areas based on funding and need.
"This route is crucial for the efficient north-south movement of freight and people - 6 to 7million tonnes of long distance freight enters and leaves Wellington by road and rail every year, with 1-2 million tonnes crossing Cook Strait," says Mr Joyce.
The next three years will largely be spent planning the route and completing enabling works.
"Of the seven initial Roads of National Significance, this is one of the least developed, with almost every stage yet to be consented. I look forward to movement as quickly as possible," says Mr Joyce