Update on work and new completion date for Transmission Gully

Friday, May 29, 2020

The NZ Transport Agency is making an advance payment to the builder of the Transmission Gully project to reflect the costs of the Covid-19 work shutdown.

Advance payments related to the Covid-19 shutdown have been made available on other NZTA projects. The NZTA is continuing to negotiate the full cost of the impacts of the Covid-19 shutdown with the contractor (Wellington Gateway Partnership) and the builder (CPB HEB Joint Venture) for Transmission Gully, and is advancing an interim payment of $14m, which will form part of any final settlement agreement.

Transmission Gully was scheduled to open by November 2020. The shutdown under Covid-19 alert level 4, the subsequent adjustment to work practices and the resulting lost time over the important summer construction season means the completion date will now extend well into 2021.

The contractor (WGP) and the builder (CPB HEB JV) have agreed to carry out a winter construction programme over the next six weeks while the NZTA agree a new completion date, and discussions continue regarding the financial implications of the Covid-19 delays.  

“We understand that people are keen to know when the road will be finished, and we are committed to seeing it open at the earliest possible date, and the winter works programme will help minimise further delays. However, the NZTA must take a considered approach to making any decisions that involve taxpayer money and that is why an agreement on the new opening date and associated costs is taking time,” says NZTA transport services general manager Brett Gliddon.

“The Covid-19 stand-down period and subsequent work restrictions has caused longer delays than the five weeks of level 4 due to the loss of valuable summer construction, and some of that work can’t be resumed until the weather improves again.

“The winter works programme will ensure the builder sources and brings onto site critical materials to allow the project to progress through the winter construction season. If materials, such as aggregate, are not sourced now, there is a risk the materials may not be available later in the season and could cause further delays to the project’s completion.”

During the winter works programme the NZTA, the contractor and the builder will also investigate a new design for a different road surface that will improve the ongoing quality of the project and potentially allow it to be built more quickly.

New Zealand’s cold and wet winter doesn’t allow as much construction to take place as during summer months, and as a result there will be a reduced workforce on site. The builder had planned for reduced staff numbers over winter for some time.  The changes in staff numbers are seasonal, part of usual construction cycles and not Covid-19 related.

Under the PPP contract all operational decisions related to construction, including materials and the size of the workforce, sit solely with the contractor and the builder, CPB HEB Joint Venture and WGP, not the NZTA.

Commercial negotiations on the full impact of Covid-19 are ongoing, and the NZTA says it is not appropriate to make any further comment on these issues until the negotiations are completed.

“We understand the public interest in Transmission Gully and we will announce the new agreed completion date and further information when negotiations are complete,” Gliddon says.