Commuters in the Lower North Island are frustrated after more delays to the troubled Transmission Gully motorway project.
The New Zealand Transport Agency says the country’s lockdown means the new road won’t be ready until next year at the earliest.
“It is clear that the Level 4 lockdown and Level 3 restrictions will have an impact on the completion date which will likely extend into 2021,” NZTA project manager Andrew Thackwray said.
National’s Chris Bishop said the organisation isn’t being transparent, and claims his sources say the project won’t be ready for another two years.
“I'm told there are contractors walking away, people not being allowed onto the site. The major contractor is threatening to walk away from the contract which is causing further delays, so we really need to know exactly what is going on”.
Another issue faced by the project is labour force.
At least 80 staff from overseas returned home for the Alert Level 4 lockdown and now are unable to return to New Zealand because of border restrictions.
They make up a significant portion of the site’s engineering and supervision team, as well as operations personnel.
Transmission Gully has been on the cards for decades and work finally started at the end of 2014.
The motorway was initially meant to be finished in April this year but that date was pushed out to November 2020 due to construction challenges.
The extended delay has frustrated locals who were set to benefit with the four lane highway slashing travel times and easing congestion.
One Kāpiti Coast resident told 1 NEWS they had recently purchased a home in Otaki because they thought Transmission Gully would be completed by the time they moved in.
They have to travel from the coast to Wellington most days for work.
“With the delays, it’s just very disappointing at this stage. The commute takes forever to get to work.. they’re taking time away from your family,” the resident said.
NZTA said it’s committed to seeing the project completed as quickly as possible but is currently unable to provide a new finish date.
Mr Bishop said that’s not good enough.
“We need to know when the project will be complete. Wellingtonians have waited so long for this project. Transmission Gully is turning into a real mess.”