Anchor projects cause anxiety!

1431085048320Canterbury sports enthusiasts and businesses are “hugely disappointed” and frustrated two of Christchurch’s major anchor projects will be delayed.

The Government on Friday said completion of the metro sports facility would be delayed to early 2020 and the convention centre to late 2018.

Concern is also growing for Cathedral Square’s renovation with ASB Bank pulling out of plans for a new regional headquarters there.

Indoor sports players, swimmers and other athletes have all been waiting keenly for the metro sports facility to open but will now have to wait three more years.

The centre was initially supposed to be finished by March 2017.

Mainland Netball chief executive Bridget Hearn said the news was “hugely disappointing” for indoor sport in Canterbury.

Five years was an “incredibly long wait” and lack of indoor space in the city was problematic.

“I know we have to be patient, and we are very excited about the metro sports facility, but we have had to turn away junior teams for lack of space.”

Rugby had transitional facilities, she said, but indoor and womens sports had been left in the lurch.

Canterbury Sport chief executive Julyan Falloon said there was “real frustration” at the delay.

Aquatic and indoor sports had been “hugely compromised” since the earthquakes, he said, and organisations would find it hard to plan ahead for infrastructure across the city.

School Sport Canterbury regional sports director Bill Grogan said the delay meant students would miss out on tournament opportunities.

“Canterbury students have to keep travelling for national tournaments as we can’t host any at the moment.”

The tourism and business community was also counting on an opening date for the convention centre in late 2017.

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said progress on the centre was “disappointingly slow” and caused uncertainty among business owners and investors.

“People need to plan ahead. We keep getting these delays and this causes uncertainty about when it will actually happen.”

Christchurch and Canterbury Convention Centre Bureau (CCCCB) manager Caroline Blanchfield said the delay was “disappointing” but she hoped the centre would be open in time for a large health conference booked in November 2018.

The Asia-Oceania Conference of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine would bring 800 delegates and an estimated $2.1 million to the city.

She said a “back-up plan” was in place in case the centre was not finished in time.

With the convention centre delays, the halving of the size of the performing arts precinct, and no sign of an answer on the future of Christ Church Cathedral, fears were rising that Cathedral Square was becoming toxic for development.

ASB bank announced in December 2013 it would be the anchor tenant for a four-storey office block to be developed at 9 Cathedral Square, on the site of the previous ANZ building.

However, ASB spokesman Christian May said the bank broke off negotiations with Central City Estates, the family investor group that owns the site, in December 2014.

May said ASB was now talking to developers of other “high profile CBD sites” and still expected to reopen somewhere by late 2016.

Ernest Duval, of the City Owners Rebuild Entity (Core), was unsure who would be booking conventions while the square’s future remained so uncertain.

“The pressing issue is to break the impasse on the cathedral and address some of these buildings like [the half-demolished BNZ House], [and] try and move things forward, because we’re missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of development,” he said.

Christchurch Central Development Unit director Baden Ewart said the Crown’s commitment to the vision of the blueprint had not changed.

Time frames had been reviewed and the public would be updated on them “as often as we can”.

Source:

  • The Press

Alice breaks into daylight!

11_93Q4117_620x310The longest road tunnel in New Zealand is one step closer to completion after Alice the boring machine broke into daylight in Auckland this afternoon.

The milestone marks the end of Alice’s 10-month long, 2.4km underground journey from Owairaka to Waterview.

It also marks the completion of the first of the twin tunnels that will connect Auckland’s southwestern and northwestern motorways as part of the New Zealand Transport Agency’s (NZTA) Waterview Connection project.

The tunnel bored by Alice is the 10th largest in diameter in the world, and the longest road tunnel in New Zealand.

Once opened in early 2017, it will carry three lanes of southbound traffic up to 40m below Avondale and Waterview in west Auckland.

The tunnel – part of a 5km, six-lane motorway link from the Great North Rd interchange at Waterview to Maioro St in Mt Roskill – is a key part of the long-awaited Western Ring Route.

NZTA Auckland highways manager Brett Gliddon said the tunnel’s completion was a significant milestone for the $1.4 billion project.

“This is a fantastic achievement.”

Mr Gliddon said the breakthrough was completed safely and ahead of schedule.

“It is a huge engineering feat for New Zealand, one that is attracting worldwide attention.”

Alice will now be turned around to bore the northbound tunnel. However, turning around the 90m-long, 3100 tonne machine and reconnecting its cutting head and three trailing gantries was not expected to be completed until early next year, when tunnelling on the second tunnel could commence.

The machine’s second run, from Waterview to Owairaka, was expected to be completed in about October next year.

About a year of work would then be needed to complete the mechanical and electrical fit-out of the tunnels, including completing ventilation buildings at both ends and constructing 16 cross-passages to connect the tunnels.

The entire project – which also involves building surface connections to the existing motorways, 9km of new cycleways, new community amenities such as walkways, playgrounds and skateparks, and planting some 150,000 trees and shrubs – was due to be completed in early 2017.

The Waterview Connection was one of five projects to complete the Western Ring Route as an alternative to State Highway 1 through central Auckland and across the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

It has been prioritised by the Government as one of its roads of national significance.

Source

  • NZ Herald
  • Photo: NZTA

Alice nears daylight

SCCZEN_A_160514NZHDPWATERVIEW15_620x310It feels like riding some sort of subterranean paddle steamer on a voyage back from the centre of the Earth.

But at a top speed of 8cm a minute, it would have taken us more than 5000 years to get there and back on a giant tunnel-boring machine called Alice.

Luckily, the 88m-long machine – which the Transport Agency imported from China for $55 million to dig twin tunnels to connect Auckland’s Southwestern and Northwestern motorways – has only 300m or so to go before emerging at Waterview early next month.

Although it is thrusting forward at a rate of 20m to 24m a day, engineers are reluctant to commit themselves to an exact date, given the sensitive pressure adjustments needed as the assemblage nears the surface. Despite the roar of 24 engines powered by 22,000 volts of electricity to turn the machine’s giant 14.46m cutting head with its almost 300 tungsten cutting tools at a rate of just under two rotations a minute, an almost total lack of vibration meant it would have been impossible for anyone on the surface to guess its exact position.

Behind us as we visit the 14.46m cutting face of the first tunnel yesterday, about 18m under Great North Rd, stretches a 2.1km cavern of lined concrete curving back to Alan Wood Reserve in Owairaka, from where the giant ground-eater pushed off in November last year.

SCCZEN_080914NZHJOALICE15_620x310Also reaching all the way back is a conveyor belt carrying about 3000cu m a day of soft rock liquidated to a toothpaste-like consistency to be loaded on trucks and dumped at an industrial development site over a disused Wiri quarry.

The air is fresh, courtesy of a massive 2.5m-diameter ceiling intake pipe, and the tunnel is well illuminated by fluorescent lights guiding us to the boring machine.

Not even diesel fumes from a shuttle carrying a 100-tonne payload of 10 concrete sections for the machine to line the tunnel as it goes can foul the air, although there is a dank alkaline smell reminding us to avoid contact with corrosive wash water under our feet.

After being driven most of the way in, we are electronically tagged through a gate to ensure there are no more than 40 people in the tunnel at a time. We are guided on foot the rest of the way on the flat surface of a concrete culvert being laid to carry power and other services before the $1.4 billion motorway link from Maioro St in New Windsor to the Northwestern Motorway at Waterview opens in 2017 with three traffic lanes each way.

Even the culvert – described as a “tunnel within a tunnel” – is a roomy 3.5m wide by 2.5m high. The 40-person limit is to ensure salvage chambers on the machine can provide at least three days of air to their occupants in an emergency.

Once on board the three-decked machine, the roar of 24 motors turning the mining head with its almost 300 tungsten cutting tools at almost two rotations a minute makes conversation difficult. A giant screw rising at 45 degrees from an earth-holding chamber behind the cutting head is dropping grey slurry looking like a bubbling geothermal mud pool on a conveyor belt as the machine’s operator, cocooned in a control room, adjusts balancing pressures to keep the tunnel face stable.

Tunnel construction manager Iain Simmons says the machine has a pushing force of 30,000 tonnes, yet only about 5000 tonnes is typically needed “so he [the operator] has to be really careful”.

19951c7077e4a0efad702a04cf6beb3c3b88afd6_620x310But despite the din and massive power, there is no vibration, which is just as well given that the machine has tunnelled directly below the Mt Albert Pak’n Save supermarket and Oakley Creek at depths of up to 45m.

Mr Simmons says pressure will have to be eased off as the machine edges its way to the surface. He is blase about the prospect soon of breaking through a portal built in a trench next to Waterview Primary School and an embankment which will lift traffic to a three-level interchange for which support structures are already towering 20m above the Northwestern Motorway.

For him, that will simply signal the start of four months of maneuvering the tunnel-boring machine around in a tight trench so it can start digging its way back to Owairaka  to complete the second of a pair of 2.4-kilometre tunnels needed to link the Southwestern and Northwestern motorways, and complete the region’s 47-kilometre western ring route alternative to State Highway One.

Once the machine is fully under way on its return journey, after a two-phase turnaround operation, the Transport Agency’s Well-Connected contracting alliance will begin drilling 16 cross passages between the main tunnels to provide motorists with escape routes in emergencies.

Although the second tunnel is expected to take only until about next September to dig, there is plenty to be done – including building venting towers at both ends – before the full 4.8km Waterview Connection – half of which will be surface motorway – opens in 2017.

Source:

  • Mathew Dearnaley
  • NZ Herald
  • Photos: Jason Oxenham & Dean Purcell

Waterview Project-Time Lapse Video

A time lapse video of the Waterview Project including the construction of Alice the TBM.

Source: YouTube: Waterview Connection

 

Alice poised for action

Alice, the Waterview Connection’s tunnel boring machine, is lined up at the mouth of her first Mt Roskill wall, ready to dig the country’s biggest roading job.

John Burden, project manager for the Well-Connected Alliance, showed how the shield or cutting face of the world’s 10th-largest tunnel boring machine would soon start eating into the ground to create the first 2.4km southbound tunnel.

alice

Alice, which can create a 14.4m diameter tunnel up to 17m long a day, not only digs the tunnel with her circular cutter head full of blades and discs but also lines the hole she has dug with concrete segments, completing the process all in one go.

“The tunnel has to be that big to get three lanes of traffic in,” said Burden, aged 51, a civil engineering Auckland University graduate, who heads the project.

Burden was in the successful tendering team, so has been working on the $1.4 billion Waterview job since January 2011 “and we have another 3 years to go”.

Financial incentives and disincentives are built into the contract.

“The commercial organisations in the alliance work to target and get a pain or gain share,” Burden said, describing financial penalties and rewards at various stages.

He cited Alice as an example, saying it had come in “very close to budget, at roughly $55 million”.

“If we didn’t do a good job, all the people in the alliance would be affected and get less money,” Burden said.

Soil or spoil from the tunnels will be removed by a continuous conveyor belt, more than 6km long once it is linked up to the back of Alice.

Source:

  • Anne Gibson
  • NZ Herald
  • Photo: facebook.com/AliceTBM

Alice taking shape after big lift at Waterview

The NZTA’s Waterview Connection team in Auckland is celebrating a key project milestone with the successful lowering into place of the 350-tonne main drive that will power Alice, the project’s giant tunnel boring machine (TBM).

home-cutter-head-installation-img4The main drive, the critical component that will enable the cutting face of the TBM – now known as Alice – to rotate and bore the twin tunnels that will connect the Northwestern and Southwestern motorways, was lowered 40 m into the deep trench where the machine is being reassembled.

The NZTA’s highways manager, Tommy Parker, says the operation demonstrates both the complexity and preparation required for the country’s biggest ever roading project. “This single operation illustrates that this is a project of unprecedented scale in New Zealand,” says Mr Parker. “To have completed it with such little fuss, as if an everyday task, should give all the project’s stakeholders – which in this case is the whole of New Zealand – great confidence in our team’s ability to meet the many challenges that lie ahead in its safe delivery.”

The meticulously planned manoeuvre was carried out using a 600-tonne crane, and required the construction of a deep-piled, reinforced crane platform, capable of supporting a total weight of almost 1200 tonnes above the trench. Despite being only a temporary structure, the platform required deeper and longer piles than any of the permanent structures on the entire project.

Reassembly

Weeks after arriving in her many pieces, Alice is beginning to take shape in the excavated trench of the future tunnels’ southern approach. Reassembly involves the painstaking reattachment of over 300,000 bolts, ranging in weight from a single gram to 4 kg. Around 10,000 of these will be in the main shield alone.
home-the-final-big-lift-img4

The TBM is due to be commissioned and start tunnelling in late October. It will bore two tunnels, both 2.4 km long and wide enough for three lanes of traffic in each direction, to complete Auckland’s Western Ring Route. The 47 km stretch of motorway is identified as one of the government’s national roads of significance to support economic development and improve safety.

The $1.4 billion Waterview Connection – New Zealand’s largest roading project – is one of six projects to complete the Western Ring Route.

The distinctive 14 m wide cutting face – which makes Alice the 10th largest machine of its kind in the world – is scheduled to be lowered into place towards the end of September.

Source:

  • New Zealand Construction News
  • Photo’s: nzta.govt.nz
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