The massive task of shifting the world’s10th largest tunnel boring machine from an Auckland wharf to the site of the Waterview Connection project is underway.
The NZ Transport Agency says the first of the 100 loads holding parts of the disassembled tunnel boring machine known as Alice left Bledisloe Wharf at the Waitemata container terminal by truck this morning for the 11kilometre-long journey to Owairaka.
The Transport Agency estimates it will be take 10 days to complete the move. Thirteen of the loads are oversized and they will be transported overnight.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep disruption and delays for drivers to a minimum,” says the Transport Agency’s acting State Highways Manager for Auckland, Steve Mutton. “We won’t be shifting any containers during the morning and afternoon peaks, and those really big loads won’t be leaving the wharf until after 10pm.”
Mr Mutton says all roads will remain open except for tomorrow night (Wednesday, 24 July) and next Sunday (28 July) when the two biggest loads have to be moved. These loads will require closing the section of Sandringham Road between Mt Albert and Stoddard Roads and the Maioro Street on-ramp to the Southwestern Motorway (State Highway 20). The closures are necessary because of the weight of the loads and the need to reinforce part of Sandringham Road where it crosses a culvert running under the road. The loads being moved overnight will leave the port between 10pm and midnight, and will arrive on site between 2am and 5am.
Apart from the two largest, the route for all the oversized loads is Quay Street, Tangihua Street, Beach Road, Anzac Avenue, Symonds Street, Mt Eden Road, Balmoral Road and Sandringham Road. The two largest will be taken via Normanby Road to avoid the Mt Eden Road rail bridge. People are asked not to park on the eastern side of Normanby Road on Wednesday and Sunday nights, and the two following nights – this Thursday and next Monday – so that wide trailers can pass unimpeded.
Alice will be reassembled in a 40 metre deep trench constructed at the southern portal to the twin tunnels she has been designed to bore.
The TBM will be ready to begin her work at the end of October. She will reach a depth of 45 metres as she bores two tunnels 2.4 kilometres long and both wide enough for three lanes of traffic. The machine will take a year to reach Waterview where she will be turned around for her return journey underground.
The Waterview Connection is New Zealand’s largest-ever roading project at a cost of $1.4b. The twin tunnels will connect Auckland’s Southwestern and Northwestern (SH16) motorways as part of the Government’s Western Ring Route road of national significance. The project will help support economic growth and safer travel for both Auckland and its regional neighbours.