NZ’s biggest crawler crane gets to work on region’sbiggest roading project


The NZ Transport Agency’s SH2 Matahorua Gorge Realignment has become the first job for what is believed to be the largest crawler crane ever seen in New Zealand.

The brand new 450 tonne crane, recently imported from the U.S. by owners and project subcontractors Concrete Structures Ltd, is now in action at the $30m project just south of Wairoa, and is putting in place the components of the new bridge that will traverse the gorge.

The 3.1km realignment was one of five projects fast-tracked through the Government’s Jobs and Growth stimulus package, and as well as the viaduct it includes a “road over rail” overbridge. The project eases the sharp twists and turns of the existing route through the narrow gorge, providing a straighter, shorter journey that will be safer, easier and more reliable for motorists.       

NZTA’s Acting Regional State Highway Manager Gordon Hart says the size of the crane is a reflection of the scale of the job.

“This is the largest project in this part of the country for a long time, and thanks to the techniques and technology being used by our project team and contractors, we expect it to be complete well within a year from now.”

The 150m viaduct being built with the help of the crane will soar over the gorge, replacing the narrow, twisting route below.

Mr Hart says the larger crane means it will be possible to lift larger and therefore fewer loads when erecting the bridge, which also means less disruption to traffic during construction while the crane is in use.

“This realignment will provide relief to all the motorists who use the gorge, and particularly the truckies who have found the gorge’s sharp, narrow turns difficult to negotiate, especially when meeting another truck travelling from the opposite direction. The end result will be a shorter, swifter journey that will reduce the risk of crashes, save both time and petrol, and be less susceptible to road closures,”

Mr Hart says the NZTA has been able to save millions of dollars due to the innovative and cost effective design of the viaduct proposed by main contractor Downer.

“The innovative viaduct design means the project will be cheaper and faster to build than we initially envisaged, while retaining all of its benefits.”

Concrete Structures Ltd director Mike Romanes says the crane cost $7m, and can lift up to 450 tonnes. It was commissioned and tested in Rotorua, and required 24 truck loads to bring its components to the Matahorua Gorge Realignment project site.

The crane is propelled by a 500 horsepower Cummins turbo-diesel engine, which powers nine hydraulic pumps.

Construction of the SH2 Matahorua Gorge Realignment began in October last year and the new section of state highway will be open to traffic in early 2011.