Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has short-listed two groups to build the Transmission Gully road north of Wellington in a public-private partnership, with a goal to open the alternative route out of the capital city in 2020.
The government will choose from a consortium led by ASX-listed Leighton Contractors, called the Wellington Gateway Partnership, and the Positive Connection, led by UK-based public sector infrastructure investor John Laing to build the 27km highway, Mr Brownlee says in a statement. New Zealand Transport Agency expects to announce the winner early next year.
The Wellington Gateway group includes HEB Construction, InfraRed Infrastructure General Partner, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFH and the Accident Compensation Corp, while Positive Connection's members are Fulton Hogan, Fletcher Building, Macquarie Group and the Morrison & Co-managed PIP Fund.
The price tag for the road was initially put at $1 billion, though opposition MPs claim it may climb as high as $3.4 billion.
"Transmission Gully will provide a safer, more secure strategic route in and out of Wellington that will cater for the increased traffic and freight demands that come with a growth city," Mr Brownlee says.
"Today's announcement of a shortlist is another important step towards beginning construction of the Transmission Gully project in 2014 and opening the road by 2020."
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