The giant machine known as Alice that will bore the tunnels for the Waterview Connection, sailed into Auckland at 4pm today (Monday, 22 July) after its three-week long voyage from China.
The tunnel boring machine (TBM) berthed at the Ports of Auckland’s Waitemata terminal on board the BBC Georgia, a container ship chartered for the voyage. Because of its size, it was dismantled for shipping and arrived like a giant meccano set, in 100 separate ‘bits’ including 20 containers of small parts.
“It’s a long awaited and exciting arrival marking the next phase to complete the country’s biggest roading project,” says the NZ Transport Agency’s State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker.
As the container ship berthed, it was greeted by Ngati Whatua elders and a 14 metre diameter art work – the same size as the TBM’s cutting head – that recognises both the cultural and future significance of the Waterview Connection.
Unloading the ship will start immediately and it will take 10 days to transport all the TBM’s parts to the project’s southern portal at Owairaka, where it will be reassembled.
Thirteen of the 100 loads will be over-sized and they will be moved at night to minimise disruption to other traffic. All roads being used for transport will remain open with the exception of the Sandringham Road extension and the Maioro Street southbound motorway on-ramp on two nights, which will allow trucks to access the construction site via a specially built haul route from the Southwestern Motorway (State Highway 20).
Alice is the 10th biggest machine of its kind in the world and it has been custom-built to bore twin tunnels 2.4km long and up to 45 metres deep to connect Auckland’s Northwestern (SH16) and Southwestern (SH20) with three lanes of traffic in each direction.
The $1.4 billion Waterview Connection is the biggest of several Transport Agency projects underway or planned to complete the Western Ring Route – an alternative motorway for Auckland that will improve city and regional transport links as part of the Government’s roads of national significance programme to help economic growth. It is being built by the Well-Connected Alliance comprising the NZ Transport Agency, McConnell Dowell, Fletcher, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Obayashi, Beca, and Tonkin&Taylor.
The tunnel boring machine was specifically designed for the Waterview geology by German company Herrenkencht and manufactured in China. It will then take three months to reassemble the giant machine, ready for tunnelling to start at the end of October.
The artwork mentioned is installed along the waterfront and gives an impression of the size of this machine.
While on Waterview, here is also a timelapse video of work at the site.
The NZTA have also put out some specific info about the specs of the TBM
- Cutting head diameter 14.4m
- Total length 87m
- Total weight 2200 tonnes or 3200 when the gantries are included
- Crew 15
- Top speed 80mm a minute or 0.0005km/h
- Expected daily progress 10m
- Cutting head power 8400 kW
- Cutting head speed 1.9 rpm maximum (1RPM for normal operations)
- Nominal torque 68,220 kN
Here is what the TBM looked like before it was disassembled for shipping.