Excavation of the Victoria Park motorway tunnel will reach an important milestone at approximately 2pm on Monday (29 November) when diggings north and south of Beaumont Street in central Auckland meet.
The breakthrough will make it possible to walk 300 metres within the tunnel trench - from the tunnel’s northern portal, under Beaumont Street and through Victoria Park to Victoria Street West. It signals the halfway point of construction of the ‘cut and cover’ tunnel structure.
The NZ Transport Agency's State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker, says the milestone provides real certainty that the basic structure will be completed and work will be underground well before the Rugby World Cup.
The tunnel is a major component of the $340 million Victoria Park Tunnel project to remove the last remaining traffic bottleneck on the central Auckland motorway network. When it opens in mid-2012, the tunnel will carry three northbound lanes while the existing Victoria Park viaduct will be reconfigured to carry four southbound lanes.
The project will be the first of the Government’s seven Roads of National Significance, identified as essential to the New Zealand’s economic prosperity, to be completed. Mr Parker says it will provide more reliable travel on the country’s busiest route for freight and business travel.
“With a very large hole in the ground through Victoria Park and at the Fanshawe Street motorway on ramp, motorists are now able to see what they are getting in terms of increased motorway capacity.
“However, the view will be brief as the hole is being covered over almost as quickly as it appears.”
Approximately 168 of the tunnel’s 360 30-tonne roof beams are now in place and last week the first section of tunnel roof was completely closed in. Also, the seventh of the tunnel’s 52 floor slabs was poured last week.
As more sections of the roof are covered in, work will begin to install lighting, communications, fire protection and emergency exits. “The fit-out is a very substantial part of the project. It will be underway by Christmas and is likely to take the best part of a year.”
Landscaping and planting to restore Victoria Park on top of the tunnel is planned to take place in autumn and winter next year.
Mr Parker says good progress is being made at the southern end of the 450-metre tunnel where traffic and major drainage, electrical and communications services have had to be relocated away from the path of the tunnel.
This week and next, traffic is being shifted to run over the top of completed sections of tunnel on Victoria Street West and Franklin Road. This will enable tunnel construction to move to a new area in front of the original Rob Roy Hotel site.
He says the Rob Roy Hotel is due to be moved back to its original site, which will then be on the roof of the tunnel, in March next year and all tunnel construction in this area completed in April.
Notes for editors