The Terrace Tunnel is lighting up like never before, with the first section of the tunnel's new lighting system switched on this week.
NZ Transport Agency State Highway Manager Rod James says new fluorescent lights are being turned on tonight, marking a turning point for the Terrace Tunnel upgrade(external link) as the new systems are commissioned.
“Having the first lot of lights turned on this week is a big step forward in the Terrace Tunnel ,and will help people to see the progress that has taken place since the upgrade began in December 2010,” Mr James says.
Alongside the new jet fans and deluge system installed as part of the upgrade, more lighting will be turned on in the centre of the tunnel’s ceiling over the coming weeks. When complete, the full suite of lights will be operated by a special control system that adapts the lights in the tunnel according to what outside lighting conditions are like.
“Daylight levels will be measured by special sensors, which will then adjust the amount of light near the entrances of the tunnel. This will allow driver’s eyes to adjust more seamlessly between tunnel lighting and daylight,” Mr James says.
These lighting improvements are part of a wider upgrade of the Terrace Tunnel to improve safety and ensure the tunnel meets today’s standards for fire protection and tunnel operation.
Mr James says while the lighting is a highly visible element of the upgrade a lot of the work being carried out will be less obvious.
“People will be aware of new lights, jet fans, and lane control signs as they drive through the tunnel. They may not realise that part of the upgrade will include a new overhead fire suppression system that provides a deluge of water, drainage to manage the extra water that would flow from the deluge system, a new system to electronically monitor vehicle heights to stop trucks or big loads that might hit the tunnel’s new equipment suspended from the ceiling, and new cameras to link in with the NZTA’s traffic operations centre to monitor road conditions,” he says.
“We’re also doing work outside the tunnel to help us better operate this part of the highway network. This includes more electronic signs being installed on the approaches to the tunnel to provide improved driver information, and two new control equipment buildings. All in all, there’s a lot happening to ensure the Terrace Tunnel is well prepared for the decades ahead.”
Mr James says the NZ Transport Agency has worked closely with Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and the NZ Fire Service regarding the design and construction of the Terrace Tunnel’s improvements. This has allowed each agency to provide valuable input into how the tunnel will operate and include some aesthetic touches too such as the inclusion of coloured wall panels in the tunnel as a visual feature.
Regular overnight tunnel closures will continue until later this year when the upgrade work is finished. Closures will be coordinated not to interrupt with Rugby World Cup matches being held in the city.