Kia ora koutou
You may have seen an article in the news about escalating costs for the construction of Tupua Horo Nuku. We have prepared some background information and key messages for you to refer to if asked.
Tupua Horo Nuku is a 4.4 kilometre walking and cycling path to be built along Marine Drive between Ngau Matau (Point Howard) and Eastbourne.
The shared path will create connections both within the Eastern Bays and beyond as it connects to other routes in the Hutt City walking and cycling network. This will promote and encourage walking and cycling, which will help to reduce congestion and improve health and well-being.
Encouraging more people to walk or cycle is also a key step in combating the effects of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.
The project will also improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists as it provides a dedicated path separate from vehicles.
Hutt City Council has a wider Micro-mobility Programme which aims to improve options and accessibility for non-car, personal / individual travel throughout the city. The aims of Tupua Horo Nuku algin with this and it is a key project within the programme.
The project will have the benefit of improving the resilience of Marine Drive through the construction of new seawalls. Presently, Marine Drive is vulnerable to damage from storm events which affects the connectivity of the Eastern Bays. The new seawalls will be less prone to damage in comparison to what is existing.
The new seawalls will also have the potential for future resilience upgrades in response to sea level rise and to protect against significant storm events that are predicted to occur because of climate change.
The project includes measures to protect and enhance the habitats of native species, particularly birds, including little penguins and oystercatchers.
The project will highlight the narrative of Tupua Horo Nuku through cultural design elements. This is being done in partnership with Taranaki Whānui and Ngāti Toa, who are represented in the Mana Whenua Steering Group. The design is being led by the principles agreed by the Mana Whenua Steering Group.
Marine Drive is a critical transport link for the Eastern Bays’ communities. It is under pressure with an ageing and damaged seawall and the effects of increasingly frequent severe storm events, which have caused damage to underground services and led to road closures.
An initial cost estimate of $30m was made for the Tupua Horo Nuku project in 2019.
In 2020 $15m of funding was secured from the Government’s COVID19 Recovery fund (via Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP)), with matched funding to come equally from Hutt City Council ($7.5m) and Waka Kotahi ($7.5m).
Since 2019 costs of have increased significantly due to Covid 19 impacts on supply chains and availability of materials and labour, as well as increased costs for insurance and overall inflationary pressure in the NZ economy.
The full details of the project, including multiple complications are now known after detailed planning and resource consent has been completed and the actual costs for the project are now estimated to be significantly higher.
Government is currently funding 75% with Hutt City Council’s share being 25% of the project, and work is underway to confirm funding arrangements in light of the increased cost.
Hutt City Council’s share of the cost has increased by $18m to a new total cost of $25.5m.
The new overall cost of the project is not confirmed as it is subject to commercial negotiations with partners.
The costs of delivering Tupua Horo Nuku have increased significantly, and work is underway to update funding arrangements for the increased cost.
Supporting messages & narrative
- The global economy has had a major impact on projects across the country and in Lower Hutt. For Tupua Horo Nuku, costs have increased due to significant increases in the cost of materials, shipping, labour shortages and other impacts of COVID 19 since the initial cost estimate was made in 2019.
- Construction complexities have arisen due to factors that were not known in 2019, including new requirements for operating in coastal marine environments.
- Aspects of construction have been altered from the original plan to address much-needed resilience upgrades to Marine Drive to help combat the effects of sea level rise and increasing instances of extreme weather as we see the impacts of climate change.
- Government is currently funding 75% and Hutt City Council funding 25% of the project, and work is underway to confirm funding arrangements in light of the increased cost.
- The new overall cost of the project is not confirmed as it is subject to commercial negotiations with partners.
- The costs will be higher overall and timings would be unknown if the funding is not received and the project is delayed, and / or split into separate projects.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Why has the cost gone up so much?
Costs have increased due to significant increases in the cost of materials, shipping, labour shortages and other impacts of COVID 19 since the initial cost estimate was made in 2019.
Construction complexities have arisen due to factors that were not known in 2019, including new requirements for operating in coastal marine environments and conditions applied by the Environment Court in the granting of the resource consent. This led to further rounds of design and changes to construction plans before the project could begin.
Construction complexities have included:
- Additional work required to upgrade storm water culverts
- Extensive work to establish bird protection areas throughout the bays
- A change to the planned construction method of the seawall due to the current state and ongoing issues with existing assets – changing to pre-cast seawall units to provide the basis for future resilience upgrades.
- Changes to designs to include installation of balustrades to safeguard against ‘fall-from-height’ danger along the seawall
- Installation of wave defence barriers to protect construction sites
- Discovery of deep rock foundations in 2 bays, requiring extra drilling
- Additional work required to relocate utilities (water, power) along the length of the path
- Higher than expected insurance costs for operating in a marine environment
Construction crews are also meeting complications as they go. Despite being planned for and the area being surveyed in advance, construction activities in the first two bays have already been disrupted by new discoveries of native bird species nesting. The construction sites have been adjusted to work around these areas.
Increased complexity and subsequent cost increases are typical of all construction projects that are operating in marine environments.
How is the Council funding the increase?
Council is looking at all options such as seeking further government co-funding and the rephasing of projects and initiatives to help fund the increase in costs.
When will we know the total cost of the project?
The total cost of the project will be known after the costs have been confirmed by the Alliance.
What are the alternatives to the current plan?
Hutt City Council and our partners prefer not to alter the current designs and the scope of work for the bays covered within the project, as these have been designed to deliver the best outcomes for Eastern Bays residents and other road users.
If the required funding is unable to be attained at this time, Council will proceed with detailed design of the remaining 4 bays and construct these bays when funding allows.
What are the next steps?
Hutt City Council is in discussions with Crown Infrastructure Partners and Waka Kotahi regarding the options for additional funding for the project.