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Waterview Tunnel Photos

Reader and photographer Jeff Smith has been working with the Well Connected Alliance – the consortium building the Waterview Tunnels to document the project. He has just released these photos and more of some of the progress to date. The tunnel is now about 150m in length

Waterview tunnel 1

Spoil being loaded onto the conveyor.

Waterview tunnel spoil

Tunnel segment about to be lifted into place

Waterview tunnel segments

A section of the TBM that looks a bit like a spaceship from a sci-fi film.

Waterview tunnel spaceship

Thanks to Jeff for letting me run with the photos and there are a heap more on his site. If you’re interested in the project at all then it’s definitely worth a look. http://albums.jeffsmithphotography.co.nz/life-underground

Hendon Ave Bridge

I love the amount of effort the NZTA have put into the design of pedestrian and cycling bridges over motorways in the last few years. The renders below are of what the Hendon Ave bridge is expected to look like.

Hendon Ave Bridge

And here’s another picture of it.

Hendon Ave Bridge 2

The bridge is currently under construction.

2013: A year in review – Part 2

In Part 2 of my 2013 year in review I’m going to look at transport other than PT so that includes walking/cycling and roads.

Walking/Cycling

2013 has been a bit of a mix when it comes to active modes. There have been some good things happen however in my opinion simply not enough has been done and from what I’ve heard (but haven’t confirmed) Auckland Transport spent well less than they had in the budget for cycling which is extremely disappointing.

Most recently we’ve seen that the council has agreed to allow the Skypath to move to the next stage where the council officers will come up with an agreement on the project with the financial backers before going to a vote some time in 2014. If that part is approved the project will still need to go through a formal resource consent process. The project isn’t without it’s challenges however with some members of the local communities on either side of the bridge determined to fight the project at every stage.

Skypath aerial

We’ve seen work begin on the Grafton Gully cycleway and Westhaven promenade and cycleway. Along Beach Rd Auckland Transport have finally proposed a proper separated urban cycleway which will probably the first one in Auckland. My understanding is the consultation saw the project get a lot of support so it is likely to go ahead which is great. There have also been some great new pedestrian (and cycling) bridges opened this year including the stunning Pt Resolution Bridge and the Westgate Pedestrian and Cycle bridge which includes quite a fun set of sweeping curves (which were to solve a grade problem).

In the CBD we’ve seen the shared space at the eastern end of Fort St completed while one on Federal St between Wellesley and Victoria St is now under construction. We also had it confirmed that O’Connell St would become a shared space which was a good result after what was initially proposed in 2012. I believe construction on the O’Connell St shared space will begin in early 2014.

Despite the slow progress of walking and cycling infrastructure we have continued to see cycling numbers increase in the city – it’s becoming much more noticeable all over the place. AT have a series of automatic cyclist counters around the city which show this increase.

Dec 13 Cycling

Roads of National Significance

Waterview

Waterview took some big steps forward this year and the project is really in full swing. The massive TBM arrived in July and starting its tunnel boring in November following quite a good public open day on the project in October. I’m not sure how fare in it is now but about 1.5 weeks ago it was about 70m in with the entire machine almost completely underground. The video below from the TBM’s facebook page from just before Christmas showing some of the progress

Also part of the Western Ring Route is the works along SH16 and anyone who has travelled on the motorway in recent months will have seen just how much work is going on. The motorway is almost a constant work-site from east of Carrington Rd through to west of Lincoln Rd. The one patch that isn’t – Te Atatu interchange – will likely start construction in 2014 while we will probably see work beginning on the St Lukes Rd interchange soon too.

Puhoi to Wellsford

Over 2013 we’ve seen the work on the Puhoi to Warkworth section advance culminating in the project being lodged with the Environmental Protection Agency late this year as the NZTA tries to obtain the designation. One of the funniest things I found about this is that despite all of the talk that the project was needed as a lifeline to Northland – all of the supporting documents effectively confirmed that the major traffic issues only really occurred at Holiday times (when many businesses are shut down anyway). We also found out this year the project will almost certainly be built by way of a PPP. There are different forms of PPP and not all are necessarily bad however the way this road (and others like it) will be built will see us paying huge ongoing sums to the private funders with little to no risk for them as they will be paid providing the road is open.

P2W Monthly Traffic Volumes

By contrast to the Puhoi to Warkworth section, there has been a deafening silence on Warkworth to Wellsford section. The last we heard the engineers were still unable to find a viable route for an expressway standard road. At this stage I would be quite surprised if it ever happened as originally envisioned and an operation lifesaver type solution is probably more likely – perhaps extending that kind of upgrade further north to Whangarei.

Other RoNS

We’ve seen work continue on the other RoNS projects. In Wellington Transmission Gully is being pushed ahead despite performing poorly in economic assessments. It will be the first project to use the PPP model that will also be used on Puhoi to Warkworth and it is expected the NZTA will announce the outcome of the process in early 2014. Recently we’ve also seen more about the NZTA’s attempt to get approval to build a flyover around the Basin Reserve. An independent review highlighted a number of issues with how the preferred solution was chosen.

Much more quietly work has continued on the RoNS projects in Tauranga, the Waitako and Christchurch.

Government motorway package

In June alongside the announcement that they will support the CRL, the government also announced an entire package of other road projects for Auckland, some that saw motorway projects previously planned for 20-30 years-time brought forward. Like with all big road transport projects these days there are actually some useful projects in the mix but they invariably get lumped in with some real dogs

Govt Transport Projects

The first of the projects to come out of this fast tracked list of projects was officially kicked off a few weeks ago and will see an extra land added northbound between Upper Harbour Highway and Greville Rd. It is one of those projects that is actually worthwhile but some of the other parts proposed in the area including full motorway to motorway ramps fall into the overkill category.

We are likely to hear a lot more about the progress of these various projects in the coming year.

East-West Link

One of the projects on the fast tracked list that has had a lot of attention, especially in the last few months has been the East-West Link. This has been another excellent example of there definitely being an issue that needs to be addressed but with some of the solutions being equivalent to trying to smash a nut with a sledgehammer (or something even larger). Auckland Transport came up with four different options with the worst by far being Option 4 which would have seen a motorway rammed through the suburbs of Mangere at a cost of many hundreds of homes. AT were planning on going to public consultation on the idea in the middle of 2014 – after the time when it was planned they would go to the government for funding for the project.

East-West Option 4

Thankfully due to public pressure Auckland Transport backed down and has now agreed to talk to and work with the local communities that are affected, not just the business communities like they had been doing. I would expect the East-West Link to be fairly prominent over the coming year.

Funding – Consensus building group

Of course paying for the massive wish-list of transport projects is going to be a difficult thing – unless we change the wish-list. To try and work out how we might do a Consensus Building Group was set up by the Mayor. The idea was to get representatives from different parts of society – including various business and advocacy groups – to sit down and work through the various funding options. The ended up on the conclusion that the below two options were the best ones but that option two would probably be better at managing travel demand. It was also the option overwhelmingly supported in the public consultation.

CBG options

In my opinion the process was fairly flawed as the CBG members were required to work off the assumption that the list of projects was not able to be changed to get the best outcomes, even if some of the options may have made some projects unnecessary e.g. if road pricing reduced travel demand then some of the roading projects might not be needed therefore reducing the overall amount we need to raise.

Other

Like with the PT projects, we’ve also seen a range of smaller things going on:

  • Work on Tiverton-Wolverton has continued and should hopefully be finished fairly soon (it’s looking fairly advanced already).
  • AMETI has been quietly progressed, the primary focus has been on the new road alongside the rail line however next year I expect we will start to see work in other areas – for example I hear the Reeves Rd flyover will be fast-tracked
  • Late this year we saw plans from AT for a massive upgrade and widening of Lincoln Rd. It’s a project I’m mixed about it, the road is a nightmare and needs improvement however some aspects are insane like intersections over 9 lanes in width.
  • Penlink has once again risen on the agenda after being silent for almost three years. AT is apparently trying to hook the project into the same PPP as will be used for Puhoi to Warkworth.
  • I don’t know if it’s just my perception but though-out 2013 there seemed to be a lot more crashes on motorways that ended up causing massive system wide meltdowns.
  • A potentially $600m+ bridge between Weymouth and Karaka popped up during unitary plan discussions but was thankfully rubbed out with greenfield development being focussed around the rail line negating the need for it

Anything I miss?

Auctioning Alice for Charity

Congratulations to the NZTA for coming up with a really unique way to raise some money for charity.

Waterview Xmas gift for Philippines typhoon victims

The giant tunnel boring machine called Alice at Auckland’s Waterview Connection motorway project is at the centre of the workers’ initiative to raise money for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

People will have a chance to have a “date” with Alice by bidding for tickets on the Trade Me website for the opportunity to visit the machine. Four separate auctions are planned, and the proceeds from them will be donated to the Red Cross Typhoon Haiyan appeal.

The NZ Transport Agency’s Highways Manager for Auckland, Tommy Parker, says the auction was an idea from the Waterview project’s workforce, which includes 10 from the Philippines.

“The devastation and suffering caused by Typhoon Haiyan has hit home with the project’s very multi-national team. One engineer had an agonising eight-day wait to find out if his family was safe in the Philippines, and another ‘s wife still has not heard from her parents and four brothers who are living in one of the worst-hit areas.”

Mr Parker says the four successful bidders on Trade Me will get a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the project, which is the largest roading and most challenging project ever undertaken in New Zealand. The tour will include a visit to Alice, who will then be well underground on the first leg of her two-year journey from Owairaka to Waterview and back. Ticket holders will be guided by internationally experienced tunnelling experts.

Waterview Connection workers have already donated several hundred dollars from their own pockets to the typhoon appeal, which is being matched dollar for dollar by the Well-Connected Alliance delivering the project to complete the Western Ring Route.

Mr Parker says the auctions for dates with Alice will close on Sunday 15 December.

“We hope people will generously support this worthwhile appeal – a date with Alice will make a perfect Christmas gift.”

I doubt there are many times anywhere in the world where a member of the general public would have the opportunity to tour a live tunnelling machine.

The auctions can be found here.

More Lessons From Bilbao

On my recent trip to the cities of northern Spain it was hard not to notice how thoughtfully every corridor was designed for all users as outline in this previous post. Of course this is completely unremarkable to the locals, it’s just obvious to them that:

1. The public realm must be built to accommodate all users, and

2. That safety for all is the first priority.

Well here’s another example from what I consider to be one of the most civilised urban places on earth, this is the Eskalduna Zubia, a bridge [Zubia] charged with the quotidian business of carrying a whole lot of traffic over the River Nervión that divides the city, shot on that same autumnal afternoon:

BILBAO BRIDGE_7227

Nothing much to see here; just like a typical four lane arterial in NZ, even a bit of a flush median, that use of roadspace that clearly obsesses Auckland Transport with its universal value. It’s not till you see what’s concealed by the dramatic steel structure on the right of frame that my interest in this Zubia starts to make sense:

BILBAO BRIDGE_7220

Securely separated from the traffic on the same bridge and even protected from the weather! No need to build a barrier between the cyclists and the pedestrians as there is so much width that contact is always easily avoided. The cantilevered roof makes for a completely structureless open side directing the walkers’ attention upstream away from the traffic [for those not staring at their phones]. As everywhere in Bilbao, cycling is not considered a dangerous activity so no one is forced to wear extreme safety equipment as if they are steeplejacks.

Here is an equivalent four lane bridge in inner Auckland, like the Eskalduna Zubia it is between two busy pedestrian and cycling generators; in this case the inner city Universities and the Domain/Parnell/hospital:

WELLESLEY ST_01

I’ve had to use Google maps for the image because it is illegal as well as impossible for anyone not in a moving motorised vehicle to go here. And from above:

WELLESLEY ST_02

There is nothing in this picture except total misery. It’s even laughably hopeless for the only mode its built for. Every time I have driven through here I marvel at its counterintuitive over-complication and the near uselessness it offers for all vehicle movements except the most simple motorway exiting. And of course it is pretty much murderous for anyone on foot or cycling; this glorious intervention in the name of movement efficiency turned a sylvan inner city glade into, at best, an insurmountable barrier and total aesthetic horror. People stay away even from the parts they are ‘allowed’ to be on. Like the once leafy and lovely Grafton Road. The slip lanes at every turn of every intersection make negotiating what footpaths there are there deadly and extremely frustrating to use.

Grafton Rd from Symonds St

Grafton Rd from Symonds St

I have discussed the waste and hopelessness that is the road engineering in Grafton Gully with many of those involved in its creation and they all cheerfully explain how dysfunctional the process was with Transit and Auckland City Council squabbling over who should pay for any amenity beyond these basic and clumsy roads and neither giving in. Transit arguing it is only responsible for  the cheapest way to move traffic and all else is someone else’s problem, and ACC arguing that as it is Transit’s works that are causing the problem they should include the fixes in the cost. I guess we can see who won that argument. NZTA [who inherited this mess but are of the institution that made it] are still happily wasting all this inner city real estate: It is neither being efficiently exploited nor have they returned it to the haven of solitude and clear air it once was for all Aucklanders. And of course it remains part of the fearsome rampart that is the ring of motorway Severance that hacks inner Auckland to shreds.

AK CBD

Here is the one piece of walking and cycling amenity on this whole section of upper Wellesley St:

WELLESLEY ST_1659

Yup that’s right, it’s a sign telling you that you can’t walk to that big park right in front of you without going, counterintuitively again, in some completely other direction for some considerably much longer time. I have had to help explain this to baffled european tourists staring at their smart phones showing a nice big park and the Museum right there…. ha, welcome to clean, green, oh wait…..

Grafton Gully and Symonds St Tunnel Plan 1950s

Grafton Gully and Symonds St Tunnel Plan 1950s

This is how it was sold to us by the first iteration of place-wreckers-by-motorway, it reads:

The Grafton Gully and nearby areas will be the focal point of of a network which will be among the most important in the Auckland Master Transport Plan. The original Grafton Bridge was merely built to span a bush clad gully. Among other things there will be a twin tunnel, nine chains long, with the rest “cut and cover” passes.

Well wouldn’t that have been good? Tunnelling instead of severing. It is a tragedy that not even short sections of these routes aren’t underground. It is time not only for NZTA to complete the range of movement modes across this route but also to make good on the promise to bury their horror as much as is possible so Auckland can get at least a small amount of functionality of this place back.

Let’s see what they do in Bilbao? Do they have motorways there?

Bilbao expressways in tunnels

Sure they do, and guess what?, a great deal of them are underground, especially under green space, in order to maintain surface continuity and and reduce severance.

The age of severing urban motorways and incomplete streets is well and truly over. Aucklanders have recently managed to stop one appalling new motorway, The Eastern Highway, and got the next one put substantially underground, Waterview. It is vital that we demand that the mistakes of the past are learned from as well as looking at other places that seem to have been able to do things well first time. But also insist that the broken pieces are fixed before our institutions engage in even more destruction.

There is little point in moving tin a little quicker through our city if we substantially harm that place and the quality of life for its inhabitants in the process, and at such high cost.

BILBAO BRIDGE_7222

Photo of the day – Alice is boring

A bit of a different pic for photo of the day but Alice the Waterview TBM is now officially boring

More bore for your buck!

This post was largely written by good friend of the blog Warren S however I have added some parts too.

Seeing the picture recently of the 14.5 diameter tunnel boring machine to be used in the construction of the Waterview motorway connection started me thinking about the cost of infrastructure and the difference regarding tunnelling for road and tunnelling for rail. Actual costs are hard to come by but certain aspects are evident.

The cost of the Waterview TBM is given as $54 million. I suppose this cost is not great in the overall scheme of things, because the overall cost of this project is roughly $1.4 billion according to the NZTA. The original cost of $54 million will have a residual trade-in value of around $10 million when its Waterview work is done. That is a write-off of some $ 44 million.

Oct 2013 Open Day Alice 3

I then thought I would compare this TBM with the ones they are using in London for Crossrail. They are all made by Herrenknecht though the U.K. ones come from Germany while our one was manufactured in China to the German design.

Right now Crossrail are using eight TBM’s all simultaneously boring away somewhere under London. These machines are less than half the size of what is being used at Waterview at 7.1m in diameter. Being smaller they also come in considerably cheaper at about $20 million compared to the $54 million for our monster. And interestingly with Crossrail 85% of excavated material is being moved by rail or barge – not by road – so eliminates messy roads during construction. Combine this with the fact that there is also less spoil to remove and less concrete needed to make up the tunnel lining and the costs for tunnelling are likely to be significantly cheaper.

Crossrail is scheduled for completion in 2018 with a capacity of 24 trains per hour or roughly one every two to three minutes, that’s similar to what we can expect from the City Rail Link. While we could probably debate all day the merits of what train technologies to use, using our new EMUs an example each train could easily accommodate 750 passengers. At 24 trains per hour that is a capacity of 18,000 people per hour per direction through a rail tunnel. By comparison if we’re lucky the Waterview tunnels – at three lanes wide – will be able to carry about 6,000 vehicles per hour per direction or about 8,000 people if vehicles were carrying a high occupancy rate.

So some of the benefits compared to a motorway sized tunnel are:

  1. Smaller and cheaper TBM to do the job
  2. Less excavation required for rail.
  3. Rail will be more efficient – one line equivalent to two and a half motorway lanes or better.
  4. We are not left with a sole reliance on a motorway system can lead to stagnant chaos and long delays when there is an accident as happens frequently. An efficient metro at least gives us a viable alternative.

Being cheaper and having more capacity definitely raises some questions about how we deal with a future Waitemata Harbour crossing. We have seen traffic volumes on the bridge decline over recent years while at the same time more people than ever catch a bus across the harbour. Further once Waterview has been completed it is likely to take even more pressure off the bridge. At the moment the plans are to build a combined road and rail tunnel which might be similar to below however it is expected to cost roughly $5 billion.

With traffic falling – and potentially continuing to do so – it has removed the congestion/traffic growth argument from the debate and the NZTA have now shifted the discussion with them now saying that a new crossing is needed so the clip-ons can eventually be replaced. The problem is they are being hammered at constantly by heavy trucks (although replacement isn’t needed for some time yet). If the main issue is the clip-ons then we need to be asking if the problem is really worth us spending $5 billion just to avoid having to close two lanes while they are replaced. So what’s the alternative?

A rail tunnel under the harbour.

The idea is fairly simple, we build a much cheaper rail tunnel under the harbour to at least Takapuna, if not further up the busway and linking into the Aotea station on the city side. That provides a massive increase in capacity across the harbour and we use that extra capacity along with other tools like road pricing and demand management to encourage as many people as possible to use the rail services. We then close the clip-on lanes (one side at a time) and replace them.  That could leave us with replaced clip-ons and with rail across to the shore without the astronomical price tag currently associated with the harbour crossing project.

Conclusion.

The Waterview motorway connection would appear to be a high cost ‘gold-plated’ project but it is the last link in that chain. After that I believe we have a strong chance of achieving long term value for Auckland with the CRL and ultimately a rail tunnel link to the North Shore.

Bus access to SH16 to improve

We have been fairly critical of the NZTA for choosing to close the bus lanes along SH16, slowing buses considerably which not only makes the bus services less attractive but results in increased operational costs due to needing to run more buses to maintain the same level of service. However it wasn’t just the motorway bus lanes that have closed as the Bus/Truck/T2 lane at the Gt North Rd on-ramp had also been closed meaning that buses have had to struggle just to get on the motorway.

Well the NZTA have announced that they will be doing something about it the interchange at least. Here is the press release.

The NZ Transport Agency is opening a new westbound priority lane to improve access for Aucklanders from the Great North Road intersection with the Northwestern Motorway (State Highway 16) this Sunday, 20 October.

The dedicated lane at the intersection can be used only by buses, trucks and T2 vehicles which carry two or more people. The lane will join the new bus, truck and T2 lane on the westbound on-ramp to improve access to the motorway.

The Transport Agency’s State Highway Manager, Tommy Parker, says it is the latest initiative the Transport Agency and its Auckland Transport partner are implementing to help keep people moving as work accelerates to complete the Western Ring Route.

“It is one of a number that have already been introduced or are planned to keep disruption to a minimum, and they will all be monitored to ensure that they are effective. This Sunday’s initiative will benefit people who carpool, or who rely on public transport. It is expected that the priority lane will return bus travel times through this section to what they were before our Western Ring Route construction work began,” Mr Parker says.

The Transport Agency say introduction of the priority lane this Sunday is weather dependent.

“All going well we will have it operational in time. This change is being made amongst some comprehensive construction work and it will take some time for people to get used to the new driving layout. For everyone’s safety, we ask them to drive with care and to be patient.,” says Mr Parker.

Completing the Western Ring Route is one of the Government’s roads of national significance to provide better city and regional transport options. There are five separate projects underway or planned to join the Northwestern and Southwestern Motorways.

The Transport Agency says that the projects will cause disruption and it advises people to use its www.nzta.govt.nz/stayconnected web site to stay informed about changes so that they can better plan their journeys.

My understanding is that the Bus/Truck/T2 lane that going in a case of the agency re-marking one of the lanes on Gt North Rd on the downhill stretch of Gt North Rd to the motorway onramp. That should hopefully allow buses to bypass any congestion caused by cars queuing to get on the motorway. Buses will still have to battle it out with general traffic once on the motorway however the NZTA has also reduced the number of westbound lanes through the Gt North Rd intersection to two so that may help keep the causeway flowing better. It’s good to see the NZTA are starting to work through these issues, perhaps there is hope for them yet.

Bus-Truck-T2 lane

One question is, does turning one lane into Bus/Truck/T2 lane also count as the first new priority lane in Auckland for over three years? I guess it probably does and it will hopefully be retained once the motorway works have been completed. It does raise the question though, if the NZTA is prepared to use a bit of paint to install a priority lane, why can’t Auckland Transport do the same elsewhere?

Waterview Connection Open Day

The NZTA has been holding an open day on the Waterview Connection to give the public a chance to view the works that have been going on and see Alice – the massive tunnel boring machine that will soon start digging the tunnels. People wanting to visit needed to have signed up for a free ticket a few weeks ago and the NZTA have said that all of the 20,000 tickets were snapped up fairly quickly.

Expecting a lot of people, the NZTA even encouraged people to get there using public transport and put on a free and frequent shuttle from the Mt Albert Train station however stupidly – and this is probably on Auckland Transport – nothing was done about the crappy hourly frequencies on the western line or being a Sunday that services don’t go past Henderson. It’s dumb things like this that put people off even trying PT.

I went along for a look so here are some of the photo’s I took.

Looking South towards the new Richardson Rd bridge

Oct 2013 Open Day looking south

The large elevated structure is a huge conveyor belt that extends from the end of the TBM all the way out of the trench to a processing building . It is apparently acoustically protected to help reduce the noise impact on locals.

Oct 2013 Open Day looking north

The re-aligned Oakley Creek. The new sections actually look better than the old trench the creek used to be in.

Oct 2013 Open Day Oakley creek

The Segment Yard where all of the concrete wall panels are managed before being sent to the TBM for installation.

Oct 2013 Open Day Segment Yard

Looking down into the trench

Oct 2013 Open Day Looking into the Trench

Further down into the trench you can see the back of the TBM along with the artwork showing where the second tunnel will emerge. The crane that hovers above the site is able to lift 600 tonnes

Oct 2013 Open Day decending into the trench

Getting further into the trench.

Oct 2013 Open Day Alice

The people help give some perspective to how big the machine is.

Oct 2013 Open Day Alice 2

The cutting shield

Oct 2013 Open Day Alice 3

Looking south out of the trench.

Oct 2013 Open Day looking up the trench

One of the wall segments that will be installed in the tunnel. A sticker says it weighs 9,900kg

Oct 2013 Open Day Wall segment

Your chance to see Alice

We’ve been keeping an eye on what is happening at Waterview and the construction of Alice the massive TBM that will be used to drill the tunnels. Tunnelling itself is due to start next month and so before that begins, the NZTA are going to be holding an open day so the public can have a look at the project and the machine.

The NZ Transport Agency is delighted to announce a free open day in the central west Auckland suburb of Owairaka on Sunday October 13 to provide members of the public a unique opportunity to view Alice – the giant tunnelling machine that has been custom-built for the $1.4b Waterview Connection project.

With a 14.5m diameter cutting face, and weighing in at over 3600 tonnes, Alice is the world’s 10th largest Tunnel Boring Machine, and will be the largest ever to be used in the Southern Hemisphere. ‘She’ is currently being reassembled in the tunnels’ southern approach trench, in position to start boring the first of the project’s twin tunnels. The Sunday October 13 event will allow close-up viewing of Alice from within the trench, less than three weeks before tunneling is scheduled to commence.

The Transport Agency’s State Highway’s Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker, says the event will give Aucklanders, and New Zealanders from further afield, the chance to see one of the world’s true mega-machines before it is put to work.

“The $55m boring machine will not only excavate the ground, it will build the tunnels as it goes, leaving a circular concrete lining in its wake and ultimately taking 2.5km of motorway underground.”

The Waterview Connection is by far the biggest project the Transport Agency has ever undertaken, and Mr Parker says the open day will also allow visitors to see first-hand other elements of its unprecedented scope and scale.

“The walkway will pass alongside new bridges, sports fields, wetlands and stream improvements that have already been completed, before descending beneath a 15m shelf of volcanic rock into the excavated trench. Visitors will also be able to walk alongside the 700m long conveyor that will be used to extract the 800,000 cubic metres of spoil from the twin tunnels.”

To safely accommodate up to 20,000 visitors over the course of the day, entrance to the walkway will be by pre-booked ticket only. Tickets will provide 30-minute windows for entry to the walkway, between 10am and 3.30pm, and will be available on a first-come-first-served basis from this Friday at 9am via the project’s website and AliceTBM Facebook page: www.nzta.govt.nz/waterviewconnection and www.facebook.com/AliceTBM

Alice under construction