New focus with completion of Albert St Rail Tunnel


Construction of the City Rail Link (CRL)  tunnel under the northern end of Albert Street has finished, marking a shift in focus towards enhancement work along the busy central Auckland thoroughfare.

A concrete pour of the final section of tunnel box roof was completed successfully today (Thursday, 4 July) below the Albert Street/Customs Street intersection.

“There is now a finish line in sight for our work at the north end of Albert Street,” says City Rail Link Ltd’s Chief Executive, Dr Sean Sweeney.  “There is still work to do underground, but we can now start to turn our attention to people-friendly improvements along Albert Street itself.”

The project re-opened the Albert Street/Wyndham Street intersection last month, and work is planned to start mid-July on the first phase of enhancement work. Improvements include  wider footpaths, more open places for people to share, and tree plantings.   Work will start from Wyndham Street and head block by block north towards Customs Street.

“If work goes to plan we are hoping to return the first section of enhancements back to the community around Christmas,” Dr Sweeney says.

The northern section of Albert Street tunnel between Wyndham and Customs Streets is 348 metres long.  The final concrete pour now connects it to the one under the Commercial Bay property development, linking Albert Street to the CRL lower Queen Street/Britomart station construction site.

Construction in Albert Street began in December 2015, with the diversion of a major stormwater line to create room for the tunnel.   Over the past three-and-a-half years, over a million hours were worked on site, 2,500 tonnes of steel bar reinforcement tied together, and over 10,000 cubic metres of concrete poured.  In that time, many kilometers of stormwater, electrical, gas, sewerage and internet lines were relocated or strengthened.  Back filling the trench around the tunnel will be completed in late winter.

Dr Sweeney acknowledges the work of the contractors, and the support from the local community.

“Construction like this in the middle of a city is never easy for anyone – the risks for workers that come from working in confined spaces, and the disruption for people living and working nearby – but we have taken a big step towards building a project that will change the way people can travel around our city,” he says.

The next programme of tunnel construction work on Albert Street is south of the Wyndham Street intersection. Planning by CRL Ltd and companies in the Link Alliance include strategies to manage the impact of those works when they start later this year.


Red was the only option!

Unacceptable risk drives decision

Port Hills residents threatened by rockfall were up to 100 times more likely to be killed in an earthquake than in a car accident, a geotechnical engineer says.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee yesterday red-zoned 285 Christchurch properties at risk or destroyed by cliff collapse, rockfall or land slip.

The Port Hills zoning had been one of the most difficult decisions to make, he said.

‘‘The complexities of damage on the flat land compared to complexities of the damage on the Port Hills is like one to 10, 10 being the Port Hills.

‘‘The balance has been ensuring we’ve got lines that demarcate what might be acceptable risk and unacceptable risk.’’

Computer modelling and rock mapping was used to determine the ‘‘life risk’’ formula.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority chief geotechnical engineer Jan Kupec said the risk of death in some areas was between one in 100 to one in 1000.

The chance of being killed in a car accident in New Zealand was one in 10,000, which was the international life-risk standard for most activities.

‘‘Essentially, the further down the slope you are the safer you are. That’s where, to some degree, we actually drew the lines.’’

Coastal cliffs at Redcliffs, Clifton, Richmond Hill and Whitewash Head, which were about 60 metres to 80 metres high, had collapsed and some properties below the cliffs were in the ‘‘debris apron’’.

Cracking had been discovered 20 to 60 metres back from the cliff edge, Kupec said.

‘‘The cliff collapse can be initiated by seismicity but also we have several instances several thousand cubic metres fell down without any apparent triggers.’’

The cause of rockfall risk was Banks Peninsula’s many exposed volcanic bluffs, Kupec said.

In February 2011, about 2000 rocks fell in Avoca Valley and about 600 fell in Wakefield and Heberden avenues in Sumner.

‘‘We had several houses that were hit numerous times – some of them penetrated – and rocks in very close vicinity.

‘‘The 3D modelling actually showed us that was not a fluke and could occur again if another event like this happens,’’ he said.

Blasting would expose more loose boulders and protective fences could be ineffective if they were hit ‘‘20 to 50 times’’, Kupec said.

Some rocks were up to 10 tonnes and travelled at up to 90 kilometres per hour.

‘‘We had harvested a whole lot of rocks off in February [2011] and guess what, the same amount came down again on June 13 [last year],’’ he said.

A well informed politician? Only in New Zealand!

On a recent visit to Wellington the president of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC), Gregs Thomopulos, announced that the New Zealand Minister for the Environment was one of the most well-informed and knowledgeable politicians he had ever met. He cited Nick Smith’s previous experience as an engineer as a main reason why the New Zealand government is so forward-looking in terms of sustainable development.


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Contractors Lobby Councils For More Highway Spend!

Contract as are calling on councils to increase their monetary spend on roading to encourage recovery from recession. This comes after an announcement from the NZ TA of a $40 million surplus un-claimed subsidies for the construction of local roads; effectively an under-spending of $80 million.

Source: NZ Herald

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Green Project gets the Green Light!

A hydroelectric power scheme based in the South Island of New Zealand and estimated to cost $200 million has received its resource consent.

Source: NZ Herald

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All Go With Rail Electrification!

Transport Minister Steven Joyce announced this week $500 million to pay for new electric rolling stock in Auckland. This is on top of the already $500 million pledged for the electrification of Auckland rail and the purchase of a further 114 electric railcars.

Source: NZ Herald

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