Three shortlisted for New Zealand motorway P3

Infrared, Macquarie and Aberdeen are among the fund managers forming part of the consortia that will be invited to bid for the Puhoi to Warkworth project.

Three months after receiving the green light to deliver the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway project as a public-private partnership (PPP), the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) announced the three consortia that will be invited to proceed to the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage of procurement.

The three shortlisted teams are: Northlink (InfraRed Infrastructure III, John Laing Investments); Northern Express Group (Macquarie Group, Acciona Infrastructure); and Pacific Connect (ACS Infrastructure, Aberdeen Infrastructure Investments).

“We are very fortunate to have such high-quality companies and organisations showing an interest in the Puhoi to Warkworth project,” NZTA’s chief executive Geoff Dangerfield said in a statement.

“Building […] the motorway is a significant step towards improving the safety, reliability and resilience of State Highway 1 (SH1) between Northland and the upper North Island freight triangle of Auckland, Waikato and Tauranga.”

The project, which according to reports is estimated to cost NZ$760 million (€448.7 million; $508.4 million), will extend the four-lane SH1, locally known as the Northern Motorway, from the Johnstone’s Hill tunnels to just north of Warkworth, a key transport link that is part of the Roads of National Significance, a programme the New Zealand Government has established to move people and freight between and within major centres more safely and efficiently.

The transport agency will issue an RFP later this month and expects to announce a preferred bidder by mid-2016. The winning consortium will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the motorway for 25 years once construction is completed. According to the statement, construction could start in late 2016 with the road completed and open by 2022.

No decision has yet been made on whether the new road will be tolled, but if it is, the transport agency will retain responsibility, Dangerfield said.

“The public would be fully consulted on any tolling proposal which must also obtain ministerial approval.”

The Puhoi to Warkworth project is the second state highway in New Zealand to be delivered as a PPP. The first is the Transmission Gully (MacKays to Linden) project in Wellington, awarded in July 2014 to Wellington Gateway Partnership – a consortium teaming InfraRed with Leighton Contractors.

Construction on Transmission Gully began last September and the highway will be open to traffic by 2020.