Alice, Waterview’s huge tunnel boring machine, has been successfully turned and has resumed tunnelling – heading south now building the second of the motorway tunnels.
She will be stopped again after travelling far enough to allow the rest of Alice’s mechanical entourage to be connected again behind her. She’s due to resume full tunnelling again in March and complete the second of her 2.4km-long underground journeys next spring.
Alice first began her journey to build the two Waterview tunnels in November 2013 at Owairaka and on 29 September 2014, she broke into daylight at Waterview.
She was turned with just millimetres to spare inside the tunnels’ northern approach trench by an extraordinary feat of engineering, described in our Turning Around Alice poster below.
You can see how it was done by watching our February timelapse video.
The $1.4b Waterview Connection is being constructed by the NZ Transport Agency and is New Zealand’s largest and most ambitious roading project. It involves construction of 4.8kms of six-lane highway to connect the Northwestern and Southwestern Motorways (State Highways 16 & 20), to complete Auckland’s Western Ring Route – an alternative to the Southern and Northern Motorways along SH1 through the central city.
Half of the Waterview Connection will be underground – the largest road tunnel in Australasia. Alice has been custom built for the job. She has a cutting diameter of 14.4m, which makes her the 10th largest machine of her kind to have ever been built.
Besides completing the Western Ring Route, the Waterview Connection will also provide amenities for the project’s community neighbours. These include landscaping improvements, new links for walkers and cyclists, and sports and recreation facilities.
The project is being delivered by the Well-Connected Alliance: the Transport Agency, Fletcher Construction, McConnell Dowell Constructors, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Beca Infrastructure, Tonkin and Taylor, and the Japanese construction company Obayashi Corporation. The Well-Connected Alliance has formed further partnerships with pre-cast concrete suppliers Wilson Tunnelling, which constructs the tunnel segments, and Spanish tunnel control specialists, SICE, which will manage long-term maintenance and operation.
Delivering national benefits with local focus
The Waterview tunnels and the giant interchange to connect the Northwestern and Southwestern Motorways is due to be completed in early 2017.
It is one of most important infrastructure developments ever to take place in New Zealand, and it will have significant travel and economic benefits for Auckland and the country. The Western Ring Route will provide more resilience to Auckland’s motorways if there is a crash or some other incident elsewhere on the network; drivers will no longer need to rely just on the busy SH1/Auckland Harbour Bridge motorway corridor; connections will be improved between Auckland International Airport and the CBD and between areas of new expansion in the city; regional links with Auckland’s expanding neighbours to the north and the south will also be better.