Next year’s highway programme and beyond – where to from here?

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By Tommy Parker

After robust discussions in recent weeks, we now have a pretty clear view of what our programme of works is going to look like for the 2016/17 financial year.

NZTA's Tommy Parker
NZTA’s Tommy Parker

We are spending around $2.2 billion on our state highway network next year. Being the second year of the 2015-2018 National Land Transport Programme, it is pretty much business as usual, with some new capital improvements.

Our first priority is remedial maintenance – it’s important that we keep our existing asset in good shape.

To ensure we are well placed to deliver our maintenance and renewals programme at optimal times during next year’s summer season, we’re asking each of our NOC suppliers to sign up to delivering their part of our maintenance and renewals programme. We’re asking for this commitment by the end of June, so we can all have an excellent summer season on the roads.

For the coming year, our capital improvement programme is worth $1.64 billion. A large proportion of our programme ($1.33 billion) is already committed to a range of projects through the Roads of National Significance programme, and the Auckland and Accelerated Regional State Highways programmes.

A recently made commitment to this is the Waikato’s $53 million SH2 Pokeno and Mangatarata, which was approved by the NZ Transport Agency board a month or so ago. This is a range of safety improvements to reduce the number of serious and fatal crashes caused by head-on and run-off-road impact, and safety improvements to intersections.

We will be investigating the $55 million Whirokino trestle and Manawatu River bridge replacement on State Highway 1 between Levin and Foxton. This project will save a 19 km detour for HMPVs. The $20 million Taramakau road-rail bridge replacement on State Highway 6 in the West Coast will result in a new bridge with separation of road from rail.

Both projects will make life much easier for freight efficiency and HPMVs, and are the result of the Accelerated Regional State Highways programme.

We are also beginning work on Phase 1 of the East-West Connection that links Onehunga and Penrose in Auckland. This project will provide a better link between State Highway 1 and State Highway 20. This is a large construction project that, once completed, will make big gains in travel times and journey reliability.

The final link in the chain for the Waikato Expressway, the Longswamp section, will also get underway. This $112 million project completes the expressway, and links the already completed Mercer section (just south of the Hampton Downs Interchange) with the Rangiriri section to the south.

Next year’s capital improvements programme will also see the next stage of the Wellington North Corridor, Peka Peka to Otaki on State Highway 1, get underway. This will provide a bypass of Ōtaki, and some four-laning to increase the efficiency of freight and people movements between Wellington and the rest of the North Island.

In the South Island, the $20 million safety retrofitting of the Lyttelton Tunnel will improve resilience and safety on this key freight route, and we will also start Stage 2 of the Christchurch Southern Corridor – this is a $183 million project that will include better linkages between Halswell and Rolleston and which is part of this Christchurch Motorways Roads of National Significance project.

So that’s what we have coming up for the 2016/17 year. What’s beyond this? Well, we’re working on it. We have a long view, but we need to be satisfied we have the right solutions to the customer journeys challenge.

We’re using the way in which customers use our roads as part of how we identify what needs to be done on New Zealand’s state highways. The customer levels of service through the One Network Road Classification, certainly, but also key routes – why customers use them, for what purpose and how.

We are looking ahead and are starting to plan for 2018-2021 NLTP. We are taking an in-depth look at the next tranche of major corridor improvements. We have nine programme business cases underway, all of which are working on developing a programme of work to address the needs of each corridor.

Included in this work is Auckland-Whangarei, SH1 Piarere to Taupo, SH1 Taupo to Waiouru, SH29 Piarere to Tauriko, SH2 Ngauranga to Te Marua, SH2 Rimuata Hill (Te Marua to Masterton), Wellington’s port access, SH73/76 West Melton to Lyttelton Tunnel in Christchurch, and SH1 Christchurch to Dunedin. The outcomes of these will guide part of our highway activity for some years to come.

With so much work to get to market we are looking again at the use of the Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) model.

The contract was procured using the Early Contractors Involvement model. We have previously used this contract model in the past. It’s probably fair to say that while some of these projects worked well for us, some didn’t.  We have learnt from this, and we continue to see expected benefits in having a contractor involved earlier in a project’s lifecycle.

Early involvement by contractors can work toward ensuring consent conditions maximise the efficiency of delivery. It also means the wider team works together through the design process to understand all implications and elements of construction. Think about it as the architect and builder all working together on the design and build of your new home.

Keep your eyes open for the opportunity to be involved in such a contract – both the coming Opawa bridge replacement and the Northland Bridges procurement processes utilise forms of ECI we believe will be of benefit to the efficient delivery of these projects.



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