Western Motorway Upgrade – Auckland


Source: NZTA


$4.2 billion for Auckland transport

mainmotorway_620x310Auckland is receiving 30 per cent of a national land transport budget of $13.9 billion over the next three years.

The Government’s Transport Agency has this afternoon announced that the Super City – with about one third of the country’s population – will receive $4.2 billion for state highways, local roads, public transport, walking, cycling and road policing.

About $3 billion – or just over 71 per cent – of that will be Government money from fuel taxes paid into the National Land Transport Fund, leaving Auckland Council to pay the remaining $1.2b.

That does not include projects outside the land transport programme for which the council is allocating Auckland Transport an additional $1 billion, including for the City Rail Link.

Aucklanders will also contribute $520m of “external revenue” such as parking fees and fines, and public transport fares.

Their city’s share of the overall “partnership” pot from the national programme will include $1.175 billion for public transport, $960 million to maintain highways and local roads, and $91 million to improve cycling and walking.

That is additional to $24.75m the Government said last week it would contribute to Auckland from its $100m urban cycleways fund.

Today’s transport announcement opens the way for early starts on a $1 billion package of road freight connections between the Southern and Southwestern motorways, and also commits funds for the first time to design an extension of the Northern Busway, from Constellation Drive to Albany.

It includes $48m to continue preparations for a $760m motorway extension to Warkworth, which the Government hopes will be built as a public private partnership from late next year.

The transport programme has allocated $268m to widen the Southern Motorway beyond Manukau, and has increased the budget to complete the Waterview Connection and related projects along the Northwestern Motorway on Auckland’s long-awaited western ring route from $2b to $2.27b.

The national allocation represents a 15 per cent increase in land transport funding from previous 2012-15 programme.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the $13.9b programme represents the largest ever spend on land transport, and will deliver on Government priorities of increasing economic growth and productivity, improving safety, strengthening regional transport networks, lifting investment in public transport and cycling, and ensuring value for money.

The Government’s share of the national programme amounts to $10.5 billion.
Roads will account for $10.3b of the programme.

That comprises $6.3b for state highways which are fully Government-funded and $4b for local roads, about half of which are financed by councils and their ratepayers.

Almost $2b has been earmarked for public transport nationally, a 21 per cent increase, and investment in cycling will more than triple – to $251m.

But the Green Party says the programme is focussed too heavily on “carbon-polluting transport infrastructure, rather than building a clean, balanced and efficient system for the 21st Century.”

Transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said National had chosen to continue spending more than $1b a year “on a few carbon-polluting motorways that haven’t even passed a business test.”

She commended the increase in money for urban clearways, but criticised the Government’s “foolish and unjustified policy of not funding rail infrastructure from the National Land Transport Fund, even though rail is obviously a form of land transport.”

Regional allocations for the coming three years:

Allocation to other regions for the coming three years include:

  • Auckland – $4.223b
  • Northland – $460m
  • Waikato – $1.812b
  • Bay of Plenty – $591m
  • Wellington – $1.439b
  • Hawkes Bay – $245m
  • Taranaki – $187m
  • Manawatu-Whanganui – $450m
  • Gisborne – $120m
  • Greater Christchurch – $1.575b
  • Canterbury (outside Christchurch), Otago, Southland and West Coast – $977m
  • Upper South Island – $221m


  • NZ Herald
  • Photos: Brett Phibbs

Transmission Gully Video

A video of the proposed design for part of the Transmission Gully Project

Source: youtube.com

Alice gains a partner at Waterview

Alice, the giant tunnel boring machine excavating the motorway tunnels on Auckland’s Waterview Connection project, now has a partner to help complete New Zealand’s largest roading project.

The partner’s name is Dennis, a yellow launching gantry being used to construct the massive interchange to join the Northwestern and Southwestern motorways at the northern end of the project.


The NZ Transport Agency’s Regional Highway Manager, Tommy Parker, says besides its construction work, Dennis has another important role to play.

“He’s been named by project workers in honour of a workmate who died last year from cancer and is painted yellow to promote the work of the Cancer Society – the charity supported by the Well-Connected Alliance constructing the tunnels.

“We hope Dennis will become a beacon of hope for cancer sufferers and their families, and a reminder to the rest of us of the valuable work done by the Cancer Society,” Mr Parker says.

Dennis – 98 metres long and weighing about 140 tonnes – will be the most publicly visible feature of the Waterview Connection project over the next three years.   It is similar, but smaller, than the blue gantry used recently to construct the replacement viaduct at Newmarket on Auckland’s Southern Motorway (SH1)

Mr Parker says the gantry’s work will be a project within a project.

“The four interchange ramps to connect the two motorways involve the construction of 1.7km of bridge structures.

“It requires placing 270 precast concrete beams, each up to 37 metres long and weighing up to 65 tonnes, to create the 53 spans for the four ramps. The spans will, in turn, support the deck structures.”

“The first ramp being built will take westbound traffic from the Northwestern Motorway to the southbound tunnel – this is one people will use when travelling from central Auckland to the airport,” Mr Parker said.

The gantry was designed and built in Italy specifically for the Waterview project. It was chosen over conventional bridge construction methods to minimise impacts on adjacent archaeological areas and traffic flows.

Dennis began work two weeks ago and will become more visible over the next two weeks when it moves out over Great North Road.

It will also switch from day to night shifts with closures on the road directly below the lifting mechanism. The first closures are scheduled for mid-March, and will affect traffic only leaving Great North Road to go west.

“Using this method of construction will minimise disruption to traffic.  While it is essential for public safety reasons to have no traffic below a heavy concrete beam being lifted into position, traffic can continue to flow normally under the non-lifting parts of the gantry,” Mr Parker says.”

Ongoing information about road closures relating to the gantry’s operation will be provided on the Transport Agency’s travel information webpage for the Western Ring Route: http://www.nzta.govt.nz/stayconnected.

The Waterview Connection is one of five projects to complete the Western Ring Route as an alternative motorway to SH1 through central Auckland and the AucklandHarbourBridge. It is prioritised by the Government as one of its Roads of National Significance because of the contribution it will make to New Zealand’s prosperity by underpinning economic growth and sustainable development for Auckland and its regional neighbours.

The project’s tunnels will each carry three motorway lanes, up to 45 metres below the suburbs of Avondale and Waterview and are due to open in early 2017.


  • NZTA
  • Picture: NZ Herald

Waterview Project-Time Lapse Video

A time lapse video of the work on the Waterview Project for January 2014

Source: YouTube: Waterview Connection

Update on key Auckland infrastructure projects

Big strides are expected this year on five key projects to improve travel to, from and around Auckland.

1. Western Ring Route


The Southwestern motorway extension (southbound) connecting to SH1 at Manukau.

Cost to complete: $2.5 billion
Developer: New Zealand Transport Agency
Completion: 2017-2019
What it is: A 47km string of motorways from Manukau to Albany, forming a seamless alternative to State Highway 1and the harbour bridge.

What has been done

• Southwestern Motorway (State Highway 20) constructed, Manukau to New Windsor, 19.5km.

• UpperHarbour Motorway (SH18) constructed, Westgate to Albany Highway, 11.5km

What remains to be done

• Waterview Connection extending Southwestern Motorway to new three-tiered interchange at Waterview with Northwestern Motorway (SH16), 4.5km, $1.4 billion.

Completion: 2017

• Upgrading Northwestern Motorway widening motorway from St Lukes to Te Atatu, including raising marine causeway west of Waterview, and upgrading Te Atatu and Lincoln Rd interchanges, 8km, $500m to $600m. Completion: 2017.

• Extending UpperHarbour Motorway to Northern Motorway and creating a “grade-separated” connection between the two, 3.5km, at least $500m. Completion: Date to be determined, but may be about 2019.

What’s happening this year

(i) Waterview Connection
• Giant tunnel-boring machine due to hole through at Waterview in October, completing the first of a pair of three-lane motorway tunnels, after digging 2.4km underground from Mt Albert. Machine began tunnelling in November and by last week had travelled about 150m, installing concrete lining as it went, after what the Transport Agency called “a cautious start”.

• Superstructure of first traffic ramp at Waterview interchange to be completed between Northwestern Motorway and southbound tunnel.

• Work starting this week on a trench between the northern tunnel portals and an emissions venting stack to be built on the other side of Great North Rd from motorway.

(ii) Northwestern Motorway upgrade Marine causeway Waterview to Te Atatu, $220m

• New eastbound traffic lanes to be laid on the seaward side of what will be a raised causeway, after ground is compacted during most of this year by 26,000 truckloads of quarry stone already laid to squeeze water from marine mud out of more than 10,000 vertical “wick” drains. Traffic then to be moved to the new structure, to allow existing lanes to be raised for westbound vehicles.

• Lincoln Rd interchange upgrade, includes new six-lane road bridge over the motorway, and a new motorway bridge across Henderson Creek, $135m. Work two-thirds done, moving towards completion in June 2015.

• Te Atatu Rd interchange upgrade, includes widening Northwestern Motorway back to the WhauRiver as well as widening the interchange bridge and its ramps, $50m. Work to start in February, towards completion in 2016.

• St Lukes interchange upgrade, includes widening the motorway west to Waterview and duplicating the road bridge over the motorway from Western Springs to provide three traffic lanes each way and new shared cycle-walkway, $50m. Work to start after contract negotiations are completed in the next few days, to be completed by 2017.

(iii) Northern tie-in, State Highway 18 to State Highway 1

• Work starting this week on adding a third northbound lane to the Northern Motorway from Upper Harbour Highway-Constellation Drive to Greville Rd, where an off-ramp roundabout is to be replaced by traffic signals. $19.5m project to be completed by April 2015.

2. AMETI Auckland-Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative

 Cost: $1.5 billion (Possibly +$600m to $1b for western extension to Onehunga)

Developer: Auckland Transport (with Transport Agency subsidies)

Completion: 2030, although the Government says that is unacceptable and wants faster progress. 
What it is: A package of transport projects from Glen Innes to Botany including new roads, bus ways, cycleways and an upgraded bus-rail interchange at Panmure, to foster economic development around the TamakiRiver.

Without rail east of Tamaki River, a key aim is to feed passengers to Panmure station from a busway running initially from Pakuranga and, ultimately, from Botany.

A new road north from Mt Wellington Highway, initially to Morrin Rd, Stonefields, but later to be extended to Merton Rd, Glen Innes, will divert some traffic from Panmure before that suburb’s large and difficult roundabout can be demolished and replaced by a signalised intersection.

A flyover of Ti Rakau Drive, from Reeves Rd in Pakuranga to the Southeastern Highway, should encourage more commuter and commercial traffic to use the WaipunaBridge over the TamakiRiver. The aim is to take pressure off PanmureBridge, which will be widened for the busway between Panmure, Pakuranga and Botany, leaving existing lanes for local traffic.

An extension of AMETI, an east-west road freight corridor between Mt Wellington and Onehunga, is being teed up for an accelerated start after the Government last year pledged support. Opponents such as the Greens say money should be spent instead on a new freight railway line into Auckland’s industrial heartland.

What has been done

• About $226 million has been spent, including on property purchases, building a new busway bridge over the railway, parallel with the Ellerslie-Panmure Highway, and upgrading Panmure Station into a covered road-rail interchange.

• Work is also 50 per cent complete on the new south-north road, which will share the covered station trench.

What’s happening this year

• South-north road to be completed from Van Dammes Lagoon beside Mt Wellington Highway to Morrin Rd, to reduce an average daily count of 60,000 vehicles using the Panmure roundabout by about 40 per cent.

• Investigation and design of flyover from Reeves Rd, ready to lodge planning applications.

• Land purchase negotiations continuing in hope of bringing the Panmure roundabout replacement project ahead from 2016.

• Preparing a notice of requirement to protect the busway route from Panmure to Pakuranga from competing developments.

• Confirmation of a preferred route for the east-west freight link, towards a possible start in 2016.


3. Waikato Expressway

Cost: $2 billion
Developer: New Zealand Transport Agency 
Completion: 2019 
What it is: 102km four-lane, dual carriageway from Bombay Hills to about 4km south of Cambridge (bypassed). Runs east of Hamilton, Ngaruawahia and Huntly. 6km shorter than existing route and will reduce travel between Hamilton and Tirau by 35 minutes. A boost to the “golden triangle” economic powerhouse of Auckland, the Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.

What’s been done

• Work on improving what was derided as a dangerous “goat-track” in places between Auckland and Hamilton began in 1992 with an upgrade of the section from the Bombay Hills to Mercer to four lanes. An extension past Meremere to Longswamp began in 2001 but was interrupted for geotechnical, funding and cultural reasons before being completed five-and-a-half years later. Work on the expressway resumed in earnest in 2010 under an accelerated government funding programme, beginning with construction of an 8km deviation from the main route, the Te Rapa bypass around the northwest of Hamilton, which opened in late 2012. That was followed last month by the opening of an adjoining bypass of Ngaruawahia, including a new 142m bridge over the WaikatoRiver. The Transport Agency says each of those two sections is cutting at least four minutes off journey times.

What’s happening this year

• Rangiriri bypass – earthworks and bridge works (including for Te Kauwhata and Rangiriri interchanges) to be substantially completed. Traffic at the Rangiriri end of the project to be moved next month to a temporary road.

• Cambridge bypass – earthworks to be substantially completed and about 30 per cent of bridge work, including construction ofa200m viaduct across the ecologically sensitive Karapiro Gully. The viaduct should be finished by mid-2015.

• Hamilton bypass – planning commissioners for three councils to hear applications in February-March for alterations to designation and resource consents for the expressway to accommodate an inland freight port proposed by Waikato-Tainui between it, Hamilton’s new ring road, and the east coast main trunk railway line to Tauranga.


4. Rail electrification

SD 6182 and AMA 103 at Puhinui

Cost: $1.14 billion
Developer: KiwiRail and Auckland Transport 
Completion: July 2015
What it is: Electrification and re-signalling of 85km of Auckland’s rail network between Britomart and Papakura in the south, and Swanson in the west – $500m (KiwiRail). Purchase of 57 new three-car electric trains and construction of a $100m depot for a 12-year maintenance contract to Spanish train-builder Cas – $641m (Auckland Transport).

What has been done

• A new computerised signalling system has been completed, with automatic train protection to override drivers if they are travelling too fast towards red lights or exceeding aspeed limit of 110km/h.

• 460km of wiring (82 per cent of a required 561km) has been strung above the tracks to supply trains with 25,000 volts of electricity through two substations.

• 3,060 masts (of a required 3,173) have been erected across the network, and cantilevered conductor rails laid inside Britomart (over Christmas).

• The electric trains’ maintenance depot has opened and is operating in Wiri.

• Seven trains (including three last week) have arrived from Spain and several have been tested between Wiri, Newmarket and Onehunga, in one case to a top speed of 122.6km/h.

What’s happening this year

• First electric rail passenger services to start at the end of April between Onehunga and Britomart. Six trains to be ready for duty by then.

• Next round of passenger services to start in August or September, between Manukau and Britomart via the eastern railway line through Panmure and Glen Innes.

• More trains to be tested and overhead wires to be registered for electric trains to start running between Papakura and Britomart early next year, and on the western line in autumn 2015.

• Auckland Transport board to consider a $113m extension of the electrification project to Pukekohe, instead of facing extra operating costs from running diesel shuttle services from that growing centre to Papakura.


5. AT Hop Card – Integrated public transport ticketing


Cost: $100m
Developers: Auckland Transport and the NZ Transport Agency
Completion: March 31
What it is: A rechargeable “tag on, tag off” electronic ticket for seamless travel on trains, ferries and most of the region’s public buses, supported by a back-office clearing house which the Transport Agency hopes will ultimately be used by schemes in other cities.

What has been done

• Auckland Transport persuaded NZ Bus to switch to AT Hop machines.

• AT Hop is now working on trains, inner harbour ferries, and buses in fleets run by NZBus, Birkenhead Transport and Urban Express.

• Electronic gates installed at the Britomart and Newmarket railway stations and the Downtown ferry terminal, to reduce fare evasion.

• About 180,000 AT Hopcards are in circulation, providing about two-thirds of public transport users with an alternative to buying cash fares.

What’s happening this year

• Rollout to be complete by March 31 on 215 buses of remaining fleets, including Northern Express operator Ritchies Transport, Howick and Eastern, and the Airport bus.

• Ritchies buses are due to switch over this Sunday.

• Electronic gates to be installed at Manukau by mid-year, and possibly later at some other stations such as Grafton, New Lynn and Henderson.

• Plans underway for a new pricing structure to take the Hop project a big step further next year to provide integrated fares of the same amount for set distances travelled.


  • Mathew Dearnaley
  • NZ Herald

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.


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.

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.


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