A busy decade ahead!

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Waterview Project – Auckland

Around $110 billion will be spent by central and local government on infrastructure over the next 10 years – but more money will be needed from user-pays and other charges, Finance Minister Bill English says.

The Government has also announced it will develop national data standards for roads, water and buildings, which it hopes will avoid a “silo” approach to expensive new projects.

“Centres of excellence” will be established with people who can help government departments and councils with the analysis and presentation of data.

“Expensive and long-lived infrastructure assets won’t deliver the right results if planning occurs in silos,” Mr English said in a speech unveiling the 2015 National Infrastructure plan at the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure (NZCID) symposium in Christchurch this morning.

The plan contains 145 initiatives which are designed to help the country cope with ageing infrastructure, and increasing pressures from a growing population, much of which will occur north of Taupo.

NationalMegaProjectsAug20Mr English said there would need to be an increased focus on “non-asset solutions”, such as charging those who have a strong demand for the use of infrastructure.

“This isn’t a new idea. Taxes on fuel to pay for the National Land Transport Fund mean we already use demand management tools in roading.

“And all councils meter large water consumers. New technology will offer greater opportunities for managing demand for infrastructure assets over the next 30 years.”

Mr English said that such charges should not be used without considering benefits to improved infrastructure, such as increased productivity or well-being

“And charges for infrastructure use should never be used simply to raise revenue.”

A key focus of today’s plan is the need to renew ageing networks of existing infrastructure, Mr English said. That included schools, which have an average age of 42 years.

The Ministry of Education has recently surveyed all of the country’s state and state-integrated schools and found them to be in poorer condition than thought.

Damp, mouldy conditions at schools including Northland College and Western Springs College in Auckland have made headlines recently. Both those schools are scheduled for hugely-expensive upgrades.

“New Zealand’s population is ageing. The median age has increased from 32.8 years in 1996 to 36.9 years today, and is expected to reach 42.7 years in 2043,” Mr English said.

“This has implications for the types of services New Zealanders will want, the infrastructure required to deliver those services, and the available funding.

“Some of our regions will grow in size, while others will shrink. By 2045, the demographers expect another 1.2 million people to be living in New Zealand, with most of that increase expected to be north of Taupō.

“Those people will require housing, transport, electricity, water and telecommunications. They will also help to pay for it.”

Mr English also today released a pipeline of capital spending for central government departments, which he said showed the Government’s commitment to transparent dialogue with local government and industry.

When National came to power in 2008 discussions with councils and departments on infrastructure were often short-term in focus, Mr English said, but a smarter approach was needed to meet the significant challenges over the next 30 years.

Local Government NZ, which represents the country’s 78 local and regional authorities, last month made a number of proposals funding councils, including fuel levies, taxes on tourists, and collecting rates on Crown-owned land.

Those were dismissed by Local Government Minister Paula Bennett, who warned councils to look at their own spending and high wages rather than chasing the Crown or ratepayers for more funding.

LGNZ president Lawrence Yule, who has said local government is facing unprecedented economic and demographic change, welcomed today’s 30 year plan.

“While local and central government will not agree on everything, over the timeframe of this plan LGNZ will continue to drive strategic performance improvements across its infrastructure including the three waters, roading and transport, as well as a new partnership with central government on risk management of local assets,” Mr Yule wrote in a forward to the plan.

Today’s report notes that climate change is predicted to cause sea level rises of 30 centimetres by 2050, and that flooding is already New Zealand’s most frequent natural disaster at a cost of around $51 million each year.

Local authorities are already noting that the rising water table is hastening the degradation of pipes.

Source:

  • Nicholas Jones
  • NZ Herald
  • Photo: Nick Reed

Auckland – $10 Billion do-up

CBDprojectsAuckland is being rebuilt before our eyes, as projects worth at least $10 billion-plus rise across the city.

In one of its biggest transformations, a series of infrastructure, education, roading, commercial, retail, housing and prison projects are rising or planned; much of which is simply catch-up after the global financial crisis.

But economic growth, Auckland’s fast expansion, a critical shortage of residential accommodation, desperate need for big new housing estates, the development of entire new town centres to meet demands, expansion of the workforce, rising population, requirements for better university and school buildings, consumer demand for bigger and better supermarkets, and extending our roading network are just some of the drivers.

The biggest project now on is the $1.5 billion -$2.5 billion Long Bay housing estate and town centre.

Yet Todd Property has only just begun and it will be many years before this vast, controversial new suburb on rolling grassland above the regional park is finished.

The $1.4 billion Waterview twin tunnels motorway job is the second biggest now on but the $2.4 billion City Rail Link (CRL) and a $2.4 billion job at Auckland International Airport will top the other jobs.

Property purchases have been made to secure the CRL route but construction is yet to start, while at the airport planning is well advanced for its big transformation.

A string of projects are in the $1 billion league: the new $1 billion Westgate town centre is now well under way by the privately owned NZ Retail Property Group; the University of Auckland’s $1 billion spend planned over a decade is also well advanced; the $1 billion Wynyard Quarter CBD waterfront urban renewal, which will see hundreds of new apartments, a six-star hotel, new transport links, offices, shops and cafes; and the $1 billion Britomart transformation, which is yet to see a big new group of office blocks or a new hotel, all on the drawing board.

After a lull of some years, apartment building is again popular, and private developer Robert Holden, a former Bayleys real estate agent, is one of the busiest with four big jobs including the new Urba now rising by the motorway in Freemans Bay.

Construction work ground almost to a halt last decade when a number of developers folded, taking many finance companies with them.

Now, demand has risen, money is easier to get and tower cranes dot the skyline. The work is not being funded by mum and dad investors, buying bonds in mezzanine finance companies. Much of this work is backed by our major trading banks, extremely keen to lend to businesses with strong balance sheets, like giant $1.7 billion-plus Precinct Properties, which is required to be transparent about its accounting because it is NZX-listed.

Banks are also solidly backing Ryman Healthcare which has a $710 million Auckland spend-up planned after buying many hectares of land across the city.

But the taxpayer is also footing the bill: the Government is a huge player, pouring money into the transport network and other infrastructure and educational work.

To see a city change before your eyes, don’t blink. Watch this space.

Source:

  • Anne Gibson
  • The Herald

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

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.

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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.

Source:

  • 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

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.

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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.
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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

Mammoth tunnel-borer moved to site

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Roads near Auckland’s $1.4 billion Waterview motorway project had to close to enable delivery of part of a giant tunnelling machine that has arrived from China.

The New Windsor entry point to the Southwestern Motorway and a section of Sandringham Rd Extension were closed for five hours from midnight as the part is trucked from the waterfront, where 97 containers into which the $54 million tunnel-boring machine was packed for its voyage from China are being unloaded.

Transport Agency contractors will spend three months reassembling the 2300-tonne machine with its 14.46m-diameter drilling head in a deep trench at Alan Wood Reserve, before the first of two 2.4km motorway tunnels are drilled.

Sandringham Rd had to close so a culvert can be reinforced to take the extra heavy load.

Source:

  • NZ Herald
  • Mathew Dearnaley
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