Delayed Transmission Gully restart plans expected

Plans on how to restart Wellington’s billion dollar highway project are expected to be revealed by the end of this week.

Transmission Gully construction

A file image of work on Transmission Gully. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

It’s been 10 weeks since Transmission Gully was put on hold and there’s still no date for work to resume.

The main hold up was the number of workers who returned overseas as the country went into lockdown.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) indicated in early May that a “significant portion” of about 80 people who occupied key positions were stuck overseas, which was going to slow the development of the works.

This was confirmed by sources who said to get going again, the project needed to be reconfigured to only use workers available within New Zealand.

RNZ understands an announcement on that process and when the roadworks could begin again is expected by Friday 29 May.

When approached for comment the NZTA continued to say it was not able to provide any detail or comments while negotiations were underway.

A lot of sub contractors on the project are from Australia. They dominated the site engineering and supervision teams.

An outline of what work could be re-started without their input and oversight can be expected by the end of the week.

Some of the operations personnel also came from across the ditch.

That included key crews who stabilised slopes under the four-lane highway as well as paver operators who lay the asphalt.

To overcome the loss of labour it is understood there will be a two phase process to re-start the works – an interim and then a permanent construction plan.

RNZ was told that within both of these new construction schedules, types of equipment and building methods will need to change.

The Public Private Partnership was negotiating a clause which would allow the contract to be terminated after 40 days if there was no agreement on who would pay the penalties for the delayed completion of the project.

It was confirmed to RNZ it was “highly unlikely” this clause would be invoked.

Sources told RNZ one of the builders in the joint venture, CPB, sent out an email to staff saying they were going to start talks about restructuring.

The email, sent to staff en masse, asked employees to be available for Zoom calls to discuss redundancies.

However, it is understood these meetings have not yet gone ahead.

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