Last week there was a fairly detailed article in the NZ Herald discussing progress on construction of the Waterview Connection project. Some key things pointed out in the article relate to the fairly substantial progress made on the project in the last few months:
Diggers, drilling rigs and dump trucks from a Fletcher Construction-led alliance of Transport Agency contractors have transformed much of Alan Wood Reserve in Owairaka since January last year into a pitted brown moonscape, alleviated for now only by newly-planted native shrubs on the banks of a realigned section of Oakley Creek, and the first of two football pitches to be re-located behind security fences off Valonia St.
The site will host an extension of the Southwestern Motorway for more than 2km above ground from a new bridge already built at Maioro St in New Windsor and under another quickly taking shape on Richardson Rd, before disappearing into a pair of tunnels which will run 2.4km to Waterview from what will be left of the reserve.
Although work was slower to start at the Waterview end of the project, that has recently been levelled with the demolition or removal of about 90 mainly state houses to make way for traffic to resurface before rising on curving ramps to a multi-layered interchange with the Northwestern Motorway.
The demolitions and re-housing of residents have allowed Waterview Reserve to be moved west to make way for a slew of cranes. They are this month starting to construct a giant motorway trench by ramming concrete slurry into the ground to form the walls before earth is scooped out between them, behind 3.5m noise barriers on the project’s border along Great North Rd with Waterview Primary School.
It seems like the sheer scale of the works, although well understood by the local community through the consenting process, has still come as something of a shock in reality. The scale seems to have surprised Russell Brown from Public Address (a fellow Pt Chev resident) as well:
Through all the furore about how and where the western ring route would be completed and what would run under and over the ground, hardly anyone really understood how bloody big this thing is going to be. It’s now becoming apparent.
I’ve gained some sort of insight in recent weeks by cycling around the north and south ends of of the planned 2.8km tunnel. Even the preparatory works are vast. And the feature pic on this Waterview Connection fan page (shouldn’t it have an anthropomorphised personal Twitter account too?) made me do a double-take.
Following construction of the project is going to be an interesting process as while there will be a lot of visible change at each end initially (as shown in the photos above) and change continuing at the northern end while all the ramps for the Waterview interchange are constructed, most of the activity will be occurring underground so I’m guessing that for a lot of the time it’ll probably seem like hardly anything is actually taking place.
Final completion is not expected until 2017 and once this project is built it will be very interesting to see what impacts it has on traffic volumes around Auckland – with State Highway 1 finally having a proper bypass and presumably a lot of traffic no longer needing to use current arterial road routes to make the connections that the Waterview tunnel will provide. Construction of the final piece in Auckland’s motorway system jigsaw puzzle is now most definitely underway.