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Milestone charter keeps Waterview tunnel project on track


A charter signed today by Auckland Council and the NZ Transport Agency will enable the huge Waterview Connection project to be completed without delays while building consents are processed.

The charter gives Auckland Council early access to the designs for the Waterview Connection’s approximately 130 structures requiring building consents.  It also sets out a process for exempting the project from the building consent process for structures that will never be a danger to the public, and will be built to standards that will meet or exceed the building code.

The Transport Agency’s State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker, says it is a milestone agreement that recognises that local building codes set a minimum level of compliance, and are not always appropriate for infrastructure projects of the magnitude of the Waterview Connection, which is being built by the Well-Connected Alliance.

“The project, for example, is swarming with engineers and designers who bring international expertise and experience in large tunnelling projects. Every component of the project is subjected to intensive scrutiny from international and independent expert peer reviewers."

“Having the process repeated by council staff for every single component is therefore wasteful and time consuming for Auckland Council and for the NZTA. This agreement allows the Council to meet its obligations under the Building Act without jeopardising the integrated construction programme or compromising standards.”

Auckland Council’s Chief Executive, Doug McKay, says the charter is a great example of facilitating and fast tracking the consent process for major infrastructure.

“It fits very well with our goals to accelerate economic development and be more business and investment friendly,” Mr McKay says.

The $1.4b Waterview Connection is New Zealand’s largest roading project.  Its two 4.5km-long  tunnels will complete the Western Ring Route, an alternative motorway through Auckland identified by the Government as one of its roads of national significance to help economic growth by improving  city and regional transport links.  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 project’s structures that would normally need Council building consent range from temporary noise walls and pedestrian bridges to the motorway tunnels themselves.  Many of them are being designed and built for a 100-year life, compared to the 50-year maximum life required by the Building Act.

“It goes without saying that those structures are going to exceed any Building Act requirements. They require minimal additional scrutiny from the Council,” Mr Parker says.

“The standard building consent process remains in place for structures like pedestrian bridges that will be accessed by the public. These will be subjected to the same level of council scrutiny as all similar structures, whoever is building them,” says Mr Parker.

For more information about the Waterview Connection project go to link)

Note:  Attached photo of Charter signing:  From left, John Burden, Well-Connected Alliance project manager; Tommy Parker, NZ Transport Agency Regional State Highways Manager; and Doug McKay (right), Auckland Council Chief Executive.