The NZ Transport Agency is delighted to announce a free open day in the central west Auckland suburb of Owairaka on Sunday October 13 to provide members of the public a unique opportunity to view Alice - the giant tunnelling machine that has been custom-built for the $1.4b Waterview Connection project.
With a 14.5m diameter cutting face, and weighing in at over 3600 tonnes, Alice is the world’s 10th largest Tunnel Boring Machine, and will be the largest ever to be used in the Southern Hemisphere. ‘She’ is currently being reassembled in the tunnels’ southern approach trench, in position to start boring the first of the project’s twin tunnels. The Sunday October 13 event will allow close-up viewing of Alice from within the trench, less than three weeks before tunneling is scheduled to commence.
The Transport Agency’s State Highway’s Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker, says the event will give Aucklanders, and New Zealanders from further afield, the chance to see one of the world’s true mega-machines before it is put to work.
“The $55m boring machine will not only excavate the ground, it will build the tunnels as it goes, leaving a circular concrete lining in its wake and ultimately taking 2.5km of motorway underground.”
The Waterview Connection is by far the biggest project the Transport Agency has ever undertaken, and Mr Parker says the open day will also allow visitors to see first-hand other elements of its unprecedented scope and scale.
“The walkway will pass alongside new bridges, sports fields, wetlands and stream improvements that have already been completed, before descending beneath a 15m shelf of volcanic rock into the excavated trench. Visitors will also be able to walk alongside the 700m long conveyor that will be used to extract the 800,000 cubic metres of spoil from the twin tunnels.”
To safely accommodate up to 20,000 visitors over the course of the day, entrance to the walkway will be by pre-booked ticket only. Tickets will provide 30-minute windows for entry to the walkway, between 10am and 3.30pm, and will be available on a first-come-first-served basis from this Friday at 9am via the project’s website and AliceTBM Facebook page: www.nzta.govt.nz/waterviewconnection(external link) and www.facebook.com/AliceTBM(external link)
The Waterview Connection will link the Northwestern and Southwestern Motorways (State Highways 16 and 20) to complete the Western Ring Route, one of the Government’s roads of national significance to help promote economic growth, and improve safety and journey reliability for drivers. The project includes twin 4.5km-long tunnels, both three lanes wide, between Waterview and Owairaka. The tunnels are planned to open in early 2017.