Greater Wellington Regional Council's chairman will not tolerate any blame if Transmission Gully isn't open by Christmas and says the transport agency cannot wash its hands of the road's outstanding consents.
While the 27km highway is close to physically being finished, there are also 45 consent tasks which need completing for the road to open, along with safety and quality assurance checks.
But as of November 12, just seven of those tasks were completed, with 36 underway and progressed to varying degrees. Two were not yet started.
Waka Kotahi NZTA has been at pains to point out that it's up to the builder to demonstrate that the necessary requirements have been met, which will then require sign-off by the regional council as the regulator.
But council chairman Daran Ponter is concerned at any "suggestion" the council is or going to hold up that process.
"That couldn't be further from the truth. We will move heaven and earth to give certificates of compliance for the resource consents, but they have to be in our hands to be able to do that and they have to do all the necessary work to the appropriate standard", Ponter said.
"I just simply am not going to tolerate any blame on the regional council. The consent requirements have been known for many many years, the road builder has known what's been required of them, NZTA has known what's been required of them, we are waiting for their documentation."
Waka Kotahi transport services general manager Brett Gliddon said by clearly outlining the roles and responsibilities of each of the parties involved in the work necessary to complete and open the road, Waka Kotahi was providing transparency to the public.
"And is not seeking to place blame on any party for any possible delay in opening Transmission Gully", Gliddon added.
The road was meant to open on September 27, but was delayed due to the Covid-19 Delta outbreak.
The four-lane motorway is being built by a public-private partnership (PPP), the Wellington Gateway Partnership (WGP), with CPB Contractors and HEB Construction sub-contracted to carry out the design and construction.
Ponter noted Waka Kotahi was both the consent holder and the contract holder.
"They cannot wash their hands of this, the road builder and NZTA are joined at the hip, unfortunately for them both."
Ponter said the council was acting in its capacity as a regulator.
"We work to ensure the environment doesn't become a casualty of poor construction methodology, shoddy processes, fast-tracking things, and not paying due attention."
Gliddon noted Waka Kotahi has provided support as well as engaging an independent chairperson to manage a working group to assist the relevant parties in dealing with the consents.
The Waka Kotahi Transmission Gully project team has also provided environmental and planning expertise throughout the project, he said.
Waka Kotahi wants the road to open by Christmas, but it remains to be seen whether that's wishful thinking.
There is still no official opening date and negotiations over the Covid-19 fallout are yet to be settled.
The latest project update said northbound work on the road surface where Transmission Gully will connect with the existing State Highway was finished over the weekend.
Southbound paving was scheduled to take place this weekend, Waka Kotahi advised.
"Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is reminding people that while the road may start to look finished, the safety, compliance and assurance tests still need to be completed for the road to open safely to traffic."