Opening ceremony for billion-dollar Transmission Gully cost $337,000

Long-awaited and now very expensive, the March 30 ceremonial groundbreaking for Wellington’s largest road infrastructure – Transmission Gully – cost $336,712.

These costs, including planning, venue and equipment hire, traffic management and transporting guests, were revealed when the ACT party put questions to Transport Minister Michael Wood.

ACT transport spokesman Simon Court said that while the new motorway was “great infrastructure that was desperately needed”, it could have been celebrated by opening it a day earlier and leaving people drive there – which would have cost nothing at all.

“That’s enough money for 105 families to fill their gas tanks once every fortnight for a year, enough to fund five nurses and enough for 3 kilometers of asphalt,” he said.

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Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency was the arm of government working with a private group of financiers and contractors, called the Wellington Gateway Partnership, to build the road using a public-private partnership model.

The agency was recently warned against his spending by Wood after spending $30,000 on five large illuminated zeros as part of his new Road to Zero safety campaign.

Jacinda Ardern cuts the ribbon at the opening of Transmission Gully.

Ross Giblin / Stuff

Jacinda Ardern cuts the ribbon at the opening of Transmission Gully.

Waka Kotahi’s portfolio delivery manager for public-private partnerships and special projects, Mark McKenzie, said the cost of the opening event was included in the project’s overall budget of $1.25 billion. dollars.

He was unable to provide a full cost breakdown at this time, but said around two-thirds was spent on planning (which began in mid-2021) and organizing events for 300 guests, including traffic management, safety teams, health and safety support staff and sanitary facilities.

It also covered planning for a large open day, with on-road walking and cycling access for thousands of members of the public, which did not take place due to the late completion date of the project. and changing levels of Covid-19.

The official opening of Transmission Gully included a Ngāti Toa powhiri to welcome dignitaries.  Andy Hanara (Ngāti Toa) presents the wero (challenge).

Ross Giblin / Stuff

The official opening of Transmission Gully included a Ngāti Toa powhiri to welcome dignitaries. Andy Hanara (Ngāti Toa) presents the wero (challenge).

The rest was spent on marquees, chairs and tables, temporary fencing, catering, photography and video, audiovisual equipment, lighting, stages, supplying electricity and buses for guests.

“An opening event of this scale is a major logistical exercise,” McKenzie said. “These significant events recognize years of disruption for local communities and acknowledge the important contributions of partners such as local councils and iwi.”

When Porirua Mayor Anita Baker learned of the price, she was shocked. “It blew my mind,” she said.

When the Porirua Link Roads were opened, the Porirua Town Council held a ceremony at a nearby park and hired a bus inexpensively.

If the parties involved had known the cost of opening Transmission Gully in advance, Baker said, there would have been a pushback. “We would have said whoa, let’s take it online.”

The cost was a drop in the bucket compared to the total cost of the road – $1.25 billion – but it would have made a big difference to the council’s recently cut road budget.

“It fills in a lot of potholes,” Baker said.

She understood the importance of the iwi blessing the road, but she couldn’t see how the price was justified for what was essentially a ribbon cutting. “I would have lent them my mayor’s scissors.”

Wood’s office has been approached for comment.

What else $336,712 will buy

  • 54,308 frozen sausage rolls from Countdown
  • 192 406 yds wide dark red satin ribbon from Spotlight
  • 6,734,200 party balloons from The Warehouse
  • About 7.3m from Transmission Gully

Richard L. Militello