On Thursday 27 April 2017, Transport Minister Simon Bridges and Ōtaki MP Nathan Guy visited the southern section of the Transmission Gully motorway project, including works on the project’s largest structure, the Cannons Creek Bridge.
After arriving on site, Ministers Bridges and Guy, along with media representatives were run through the visitor health and safety induction, issued with PPE gear, and then escorted to 4WD vans to start the tour.
Driving south along the main haul road, known as Bradys Track, the Minister was given an update on the progress of the project. The Minister and media were given an opportunity to view current works underway at the James Cook Interchange site before travelling further south, where they were guided on foot to a viewing platform above the Cannons Creek Bridge.
The Minister said it was great to talk with members of the project team, including Sergio Mejia, Wellington Gateway Partnership CEO, Boyd Knights, CPB HEB Joint Venture Project Director, and Neil Walker, NZ Transport Agency Highway Manager to get an update on progress.
"What we can see today is it's a massive effort on this complex, difficult project. With some two million man-hours gone in so far, that’s a huge amount of work, and we’re not even at the halfway mark. There’s still a lot more to be done, but it’s on track for opening in 2020.
“One of the remarkable things about this is a lot of Wellingtonians, let alone New Zealanders, just won't have a sense that it's going on, because it's up in the hills and out of sight, out of mind,” Mr Bridges said.
The Minister also got the low down on design and construction of the Cannons Creek Bridge, which took two years to finalise the design, and many years in the planning before this.
“At 230 metres long and 60 metres high, it’s certainly going to be an impressive and iconic structure once complete,” he said.
A major feature of the bridge’s design is its resistance to a major earthquake. It does this by working with the movement, rather than against it, with the two supporting piers designed to bend a little without breaking. The whole structure can move without endangering traffic.
One of a range of challenges in the bridge’s construction is the gully’s steepness, with slopes of 45 to 60 degrees. Another is the need to return the area to as natural an environment as possible, meaning changes to the ground, including excavation, must be minimised.
We’re excited to announce that our refreshed Transmission Gully motorway project website is now live. The updated site includes changes to navigation, with layout options for both mobile and desktop. We’ve also improved the structure of our content, so you’ll get more from a quick read. There’s a whole host of smaller but helpful changes, all to make your experience of the Transmission Gully website that much better for you.
The new website aims to give visitors better access to information about the project, including how we’re building it, protecting the environment, and working with the community. We’ve also uploaded the latest photos from the air and on the ground for you to see just how much progress is being made.
We’ll be regularly updating our content with helpful information, articles, newsletters, announcements and events in the project news section, and sharing this via our e-newsletter. Don’t forget to tell your family and friends to sign up(external link), so they can be sent the latest project news.
We hope you enjoy our new site. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, you can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite Wellington's unusually wet summer, great progress continues to be made across the project. In the south, over a million cubic metres of earth has been moved this season, with construction on the new motorway’s four major interchanges in full swing. Three of the project’s 27 structures are now complete, with a further eight underway. In the north, diversion works on the Te Puka and Horokiri streams are progressing well, and some of the project’s largest earth cuts have started in the Wainui Saddle.
Here’s the latest from the team on what’s been happening across the Transmission Gully project:
At the northern end of the project, bulk earthworks continue around Mackays Crossing. We’re also close to finishing the relocation of gas pipelines and other services out of the way for the new motorway route. We’ll soon be starting works to build the culvert for the Wainui Stream.
Following the relocation of fish from the Te Puka and Horokiri streams, stream diversion works are now in full swing. This is a challenging job, with a number of stages to installing the pipes to divert the streams out of the way of the new motorway. We’ve completed around two kilometres of the five-kilometre length of the Te Puka Stream so far and progressing well with the Horokiri Stream diversion works.
Through the Wainui Saddle we’ve started on cutting sections of the hillside to bring the level down to the final road alignment. Some very large cuts are needed in this area and the earthworks for these will continue for the duration of the project.
Battle Hill Farm Forest Park
The Battle Hill Farm Forest Park underpass is now open to the public and is being used regularly by the park users. On either side of the underpass earthworks have started to bring the road level up to go over the top of the underpass. This area offers some great views of the works happening, but we ask park users to stay within the fenced lane way through the underpass. This will keep everybody safe, and our workers focused on building the new road.
Between Battle Hill Farm Forest Park and the central area where the motorway will cross over State Highway 58, vegetation clearing continues, and pioneering for the haul road. This area has a number of streams and gullies that need culverts installed, and we’re ensuring this is handled carefully to protect the environment. Once this is complete, bulk earthworks will get underway.
State Highway 58
The Pauatahanui stream diversion is now complete beside the Lanes Flat site office. We’ve also started ground improvement works for the bridges that will form part of the State Highway 58 Interchange. This involves vibrating stone into the ground to form support columns on which the bridge foundations will be built. Once complete, retaining walls will be constructed to bring the road level up to the height of the bridge.
From State Highway 58 heading south behind Whitby and Cannons Creek, bulk earthworks continue. We’ve had a productive season, despite the weather, with over one million cubic metres of earth moved so far. Pier excavation work is progressing well on the Cannons Creek Bridge, along with the relocation of the gas pipeline. Shortly we’ll be setting up two time lapse cameras at the bridge, and we’ll make this footage available on our website's gallery.
Belmont Park – public safety reminder
There is strictly no public access through our construction areas to cross from one side of Belmont Park to the other. With heavy machinery operating, sometimes seven days a week, people would put their lives at risk by walking and cycling through these areas. We ask all park users to please stay well clear of all construction areas, and obey all signs - they’re there for your safety and the safety of workers.
Visit the Greater Wellington Regional Council website(external link) to find out more about the walking and cycling tracks that are open in Belmont Park. We’ve also created a helpful map [PDF, 9.3 MB] that shows the construction area no go zone and the tracks you can safely view works from.
State Highway 1
Further south in the Linden/Tawa area, clearing of the Ranui pine plantation is nearly complete and we’re expecting the teams working to the north and south will soon join up, making it possible to drive a light vehicle all the way from our Lanes Flat site office to the Linden site office along the alignment.
Bridge piling work has started for the State Highway 1 bridge over Collins Avenue and the bridges that will form part of the Kenepuru Interchange. We’re also relocating a sewer line along Kenepuru Drive out of the way of where the new road will go. If you are in this area please take care and obey all temporary traffic signs, they’re there for your safety and the safety of our workers.
Night works on State Highway 1
We’ve started work at night to change the road layout on a section of State Highway 1, between Tawa and Kenepuru. So our construction team can safely work on the side of the highway, we need to create more space.
Through these areas there will be several changes to traffic layout and we need to reduce speed limits to keep drivers and our construction team safe. Here’s a quick run down of what’s changing and if you’re driving through the area please take extra care and observe all temporary traffic signs.
Starting near Tawa, heading north along State Highway 1:
- Between 7pm and 5am, both the northbound and southbound lanes will be reduced to single lanes, with a lower speed limit of 50km/h in place. This will allow us to work in the middle of the highway to prepare and install median barriers and move the existing lanes closer together.
- During daylight hours, both the northbound and southbound lanes will be reinstated, but a lower speed limit of 70km/h will be in place for northbound traffic. The southbound speed limit will remain at 80km/h.
Once this work is complete, we will start work on the side of the highway to widen the road.
With daylight hours fading and winter fast approaching, we’re getting ready to move into our winter works programme for the project, to be ready for the next bulk earthworks season that will start in October 2017.
Our focus from June to September will be on:
- continuing with vegetation clearing
- undertaking planting of native trees and shrubs
- installing and monitoring environmental controls
- continuing with complex culvert installations and stream diversions
- continuing construction works on the project’s remaining structures.
We've been busy capturing the progress of the construction of the Transmission Gully motorway by air and land. Check out our latest aerial shots and other highlights in our image gallery.
Innovative work is happening at the northern end of the Transmission Gully project to shift sections of Te Puka Stream sideways and up to 20 metres above its current position to allow for the new motorway route.
CPB HEB Joint Venture Project Director Boyd Knights described it as one of the unique aspects to the motorway. Water is progressively diverted through a pipe system along the valley floor. Once diverted, the ground is then excavated and the area filled more than 45 metres high to the final level of the new motorway.
After the new streambed is constructed, it can follow a natural course, with its banks densely planted in native shrubs and trees and the new stream restocked with native fish. The fish were relocated from Te Puka Stream prior to construction starting, in one of the largest fish relocation exercises in the country. With this restocking and revegetation, rather than being subject to farming and burn-offs as in past decades, it is expected that valleys such as Te Puka will eventually be richer in wildlife than before the project started.
Boyd said the stream had to be raised because the valley floor needed to be higher for the motorway. It was a ‘one of a kind design’ and ‘very difficult’, he said, not least because access for workers is narrow and steep, temporary drainage is required without polluting the stream, fill had to be brought in from elsewhere in the project and the waterway will be able to meander as streams do.
“But we love the challenge. This is a nice part of the project – with engineers and environmentalists coming together to recreate what nature has built.”
View the animated video showing the Te Puka Stream diversion.
It’s a long way from the Waikato to Armenia and even further from Paremata to the remote northwest African city of Timbuktu.
But the expertise of CPB HEB Joint Venture senior engineers and environmental staff working on the Transmission Gully motorway was developed in such places and many other parts of the world. These skills are now being passed on to local sub-contractors and young employees in the project’s mostly-Kiwi workforce.
New Paremata resident and Joint Venture Deputy Project Director Frank Casteleyn found himself at Timbuktu in Mali more than two decades ago, after completing civil engineering degrees in France. It was his first foreign posting.
“I didn’t know anything about Africa, but wanted the adventure,” he said. The job was quirky; building elevated water tanks that needed to look like mosque minarets, in keeping with the city. Despite challenges of the work and location, he became hooked on Africa, eventually becoming project manager for huge infrastructure schemes in various countries, including agricultural development, oil and gas projects, dams, bridges and motorways.
A recent career highlight was as chief executive officer of Sogea Satom in Equatorial Guinea, in charge of more than 2500 staff, including 100 expatriates, to design and build a brand new road network for the young oil-producing country. This involved about 120 kilometres of motorways, 200 kilometres of national roads and another 100 kilometres of urban roading.
“It was an enormously ambitious project, with the highest international standards and in a very transparent partnership with the Government,” he said. “Forest tracks were in effect replaced by a new roading network, and capable of handling large numbers of heavy vehicles as well as cars.”
Another member of the CPB HEB JV team with experience on major international projects is Strategic Environmental Advisor Reuben Mills, who has Whanau-a-Apanui iwi links and is one of several staff engaging with local iwi, Ngāti Toa. He also helps with community liaison and local employment. Mr Mills was born and bred in the Waikato and then worked in mining and construction around New Zealand and places like Bulgaria, Armenia, Serbia, Canada and Namibia.
Despite having worked in exotic locations, both men describe their Transmission Gully project work as something special. “I love New Zealand, but it’s very, very different to everything I know,” Mr Casteleyn said. “I also like the All Blacks, their strength comes from both discipline and agility. If you share the same goals and are agile you can become fast and efficient and I can see that in the wider population, and in this project. Discipline and community spirit, something we are losing in Europe, also allows the country to protect nature to an extent that is rare in most places,” he said.
“Environmental controls for Transmission Gully are greater than I have ever seen, and this is something the management team sees as a positive part of New Zealand and a great challenge. Everyone in the team recognises the significance of the Pauatahanui Inlet, for example, and the importance of protecting its bird and fish life,” says Mr Mills.
CPB HEB Joint Venture Project Director Boyd Knights, who has managed large construction projects around Australia, said many nationalities were involved in the Transmission Gully project because it was an international-scale project. “But by far the largest percentage of the workforce is local.”
Up to 120 extra sub-contractors and permanent staff might be needed during the summer earthworks seasons, and the project at its peak would have some 400 ‘subbies’ plus 150 staff. Also, Mr Knights said, New Zealanders with wide overseas experience were in the management team.
“There’s a great mix in the project of “grey hair”, with overseas skills, and younger innovative people with new ideas,” he said. “The Wellington region has probably 15 years of infrastructural work for those looking for a career. Some locals we employ will end up just about anywhere in the world.”
The community is a big part of our project. With 27 kilometres to cover, we’re committed to keeping our community updated, and we’re always out and about talking to neighbours about what we’re doing in their area.
It’s been a busy few months for the community team, who’ve been working with the wider project team to update the local community on progress, and to make sure our neighbours are the first to know about works that will impact on them and to talk about how we can help minimise the effects of our work.
In April, our Community team recently attended the Linden School Fair, and spent time talking to parents and kids about the work we’re doing. We were also invited to present to Pauatahanui and Paremata students to support their learning enquiries into how we affect our environments. There was great discussion about the surrounding streams and the work we’re doing on the project to help protect our natural environment now, and into the future.
The mobile visitor centre is drawing large crowds, with on average 150 visits a week since it arrived in Porirua in February. We’ve also had great support at two of Porirua’s local night market events, where we were swamped with people keen to learn more about progress. Due to its popularity, we’ll be keeping the visitor centre on site in Porirua until the end of July.
Be sure to check out the Working with the community section of our website to keep updated on local works, we’ll also post future events to this page, so you can come along and meet some of the team.
We’d like to acknowledge local Porirua graffiti artist, Anthony June (Antz) pictured below, who created this spectacular Transmission Gully motorway mural on the outside of the mobile visitor centre in March. Antz has worked on a number of projects with the Porirua City Council, and was also involved in Chorus’ broadband cabinet art initiative.
If you’re down Cobham Court way, be sure to stop by and check it out!