Transmission Gully construction starts

Transmission Gully is a route north of Wellington where construction for a major highway has just started. It is called Transmission Gully because it is a valley with power pylons (transmission lines) but they have now been moved to make way for the road.

This new highway will give an alternative route in and out of Wellington. State Highway 1 now is along the coast. It is narrow in places – only one lane each way – because of steep cliffs on one side and the sea on the other side. It travels through many small towns where people live, and the only way to widen the road would be to demolish houses. A major accident on that highway closes the road and there is no other way for people on the coast to get to Wellington. At busy times, there are traffic jams. Another reason for a new highway is the possibility of an earthquake in Wellington. If State Highway 1 was badly damaged in an earthquake, it would be difficult for people to get out of Wellington.

So these are the reasons for building a new highway in Transmission Gully. However, this route is very steep at the northern end, it is on a fault line so earthquakes are possible, and will be expensive to build. This project is a Private Public Partnership – PPP. The total cost will be $850m. It will save the government $25m. A private company will construct the highway and maintain it for 25 years. At this stage, there is no decision about paying a toll. The new 27km highway will have 4 lanes, 2 each way, with a median strip between the lanes, and some slow lanes on hills for trucks. It should be finished by 2020.

While a road over Transmission Gully was first talked about in 1919, or maybe earlier, nothing was done because of the cost. Even now, some groups believe a new road is not necessary.


• alternative – another choice
• pylons (n) – high metal towers carrying electricity transmission lines from a power station to a sub-station
• widen (v) – to make wider (compare shorten, lengthen, strengthen etc)

Useful expression

to make way for, to make room for


1. In the future, will we need more roads? Perhaps people will share cars, perhaps there will be driverless cars close together, and maybe more people will work from home.
2. Does building more roads mean more carbon emissions and more air pollution?

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