The NZ Transport Agency has completed a significant milestone on the Newmarket Viaduct replacement project on Auckland's Southern Motorway (State Highway 1) by lifting the final segment of the new northbound bridge into place with the help of the big blue lifting gantry.
A total of 234 concrete segments, each weighing an average of 70 tonnes, have now been lifted into position to construct the new northbound viaduct.
“The way is now clear to complete the next important stage of the project – one where the support of drivers will be critical if we are to complete this essential work successfully,” says the NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker.
The NZTA needs to fill the 1.5 metre-wide gap between the new northern and southern viaducts to make one complete structure. The two viaducts will be concreted together during the weekend of 3 and 4 December in an 18 hour-long operation known as the Stitch.
It will be necessary to close three of the four southbound lanes on the viaduct during the operation and this will cause disruption for drivers, Mr Parker says.
“We need to close three out of four lanes so that the new viaducts are as still as possible to allow the concrete Stitch to set,” he adds.
The Stitch starts at 6pm on Saturday, 3 December, and will be completed by midday on Sunday. Diversions for southbound drivers will be in place from the Gillies Avenue offramp to the St Marks Road onramp.
“We are trying to minimise any disruption to drivers by timing the work for night when traffic volumes are lighter,” says Mr Parker. “It is vital, however, that people do plan their journeys and allow extra time for their travel or avoid the viaduct. We are looking for the same level of fantastic support that we have had from drivers throughout the life of this project that enables us to construct an improved viaduct for Auckland without having to completely shut down this busy section of motorway,”
The NZTA and its partners (Leighton Contractors, Fulton Hogan, VSL, URS, BECA, Tonkin & Taylor and Boffa Miskell) are constructing the new viaduct and deconstructing (removing) the old one built 1965 in stages while the motorway remains open.
When the Stitch is completed on 4 December, work will continue to prepare the new northbound half of the viaduct for traffic. Switching traffic will happen over Auckland Anniversary Weekend, 28-30 January. All three northbound lanes over Newmarket will be closed to traffic for 36 hours to link the motorway to the new viaduct.
“The work is part of our Motorways Summer Season programme to improve the flow of traffic safely through central Auckland” says Tommy Parker.