National is promising to double both the Mt Victoria and Terrace Tunnels in Wellington as part of a $4b spend-up across the region if the party is elected into government in September.

It also wants to create a stand-alone agency to deliver the $6.4b Let's Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) project, which it intends would then transition into something similar to how Auckland Transport operates.

During a speech to the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce in Petone this morning, National leader Judith Collins outlined the party's transport plan for the Wellington region over the next 20 years.

National leader Judith Collins speaking with Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce members this morning. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
National leader Judith Collins speaking with Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce members this morning. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

National is still supporting the current LGWM project announced by the current Government in May last year.


However, it's adding back in initially recommended roading projects that never made the final cut- mainly trenching the Inner City Bypass and doubling the Terrace Tunnel.

National wants to start undergrounding State Highway 1 through Te Aro by the end of the decade at a cost of $1.1b.

A second Terrace Tunnel would also start within the decade at a cost of $400m.

The Government scrapped these two significant projects, with Transport Minister Phil Twyford saying at the time they settled on the amount of money that could prudently be funded and financed.

But Collins said "everything has changed".

National also wants to rejig the sequencing of LGWM by starting construction on a second Mt Victoria tunnel within its first term, and would legislate for this to happen if necessary.

The second Mt Victoria Tunnel would deliver more reliable travel times between Wellington's CBD, eastern suburbs and the airport, Collins said.

She said Wellington has talked about transport for too long and the time for "endless and interminable squabbling" was over.


"Let's Get Wellington Moving was designed as a package of investments but Phil Twyford and Julie Anne Genter ignored the recommended investments, removed the state highway projects and pushed the second Mt Victoria Tunnel to 2029 or later.

"Our package implements what was recommended and what Wellingtonians want."

Traffic congestion on State Highway 1 between the Basin Reserve and Mt Victoria Tunnel. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Traffic congestion on State Highway 1 between the Basin Reserve and Mt Victoria Tunnel. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The $4b is Wellington's slice of National's $31b infrastructure package, which is on top of funding that has already been allocated through LGWM and the New Zealand Upgrade Programme.

Under the plan, central government would pick up the full tab for the state highway projects.

The current deal negotiated under LGWM is for central government to pay 60 per cent of the overall package, leaving local councils to fund the remaining 40 per cent.

LGWM is the first major investment in the city's transport network in decades but it has faced plenty of controversy.


A letter Associate Transport Minister and Green MP Julie Anne Genter sent to Twyford just months before the package was announced turned into quite the hoo-ha.

Wellington's Mt Victoria Tunnel. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Wellington's Mt Victoria Tunnel. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Ombudsman ended up ruling that Genter was entitled to withhold a copy of what's now known as the "secret letter", but a statement she subsequently issued revealed she did in fact ask for mass rapid transit to be prioritised over a second tunnel in exchange for her support.

"We're all still waiting for that secret letter to be released; and Wellingtonians are still waiting for that second Mt Victoria tunnel. We can't make her release the letter, but we can deliver the tunnel," Collins said in her speech.

National's announcement indicated its plan for mass rapid transit would be buses or trackless trams, rather than light rail.

"Unlike Labour and the Greens, we are not wedded to light rail. We think bus priority and bus rapid transit offers much more flexibility for Wellington, and value for money. In time, that may mean trackless trams," Collins said.

LGWM has been criticised for ignoring the Hutt Valley and Northern suburbs, which is an issue National directly addressed in its announcement today.


The big winner from the policy in the Hutt Valley is $900m for constructing the Petone to Grenada Link Rd as part of a new Seaview to Grenada Link Road project.

National would also declare the Cross Valley Link road corridor a State Highway and fully fund the project.

Transport spokesman and Hutt South MP Chris Bishop said they deliberately announced the package this morning in Petone.

"The interchange here is a major chokepoint, congestion on the Petone Esplanade and down State Highway 2 into Wellington is getting worse.

"The area suffers from a lack of resilience. Just a few weeks ago a small rock fall effectively cut the Hutt off from Wellington for hours."

The party has also planned to allocate $300m to fund the Greater Wellington Regional Council's investment proposal for new trains to operate services in the Wairarapa and Manawatū.


Regional Council chair Daran Ponter previously sent MPs, ministers and mayors a tin of sardines in the mail to illustrate a rail network on the brink of bursting across the lower North Island.