The Transmission Gully motorway north of Wellington officially opened today, and motorists can begin driving the 27km road from Thursday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared the road open on Wednesday morning, joined by fellow politicians and regional leaders at a welcoming party.
“This road represents the largest Government investment in New Zealand’s infrastructure in a generation,” Ardern said.
The highway is expected to carry 25,000 vehicles every day, saving commuters up to 15 minutes driving between Wellington and Porirua.
Porirua Mayor Anita Baker says the road is a ‘huge’ boost for local businesses and the region’s economy.
The road has been in the pipeline for over a century. The first idea of a road similar to the current highway was pitched in 1919.
Construction of today’s roads began in 2014, and the finishing deadline was extended because of Covid-19.
Transport Minister Michael Wood was at the ribbon-cutting ceremony and said its construction was the most challenging, sophisticated project ever undertaken.
“The road spans 27 kilometres of very challenging terrain, requiring innovative environmental and construction techniques,” he said.
“What was a series of steep valleys, criss-crossed with streams, and flanked by inaccessible hills, is now a state-of-the-art motorway.”
Construction of the road began in 2014 and cost an estimated $1.25 billion to complete.