Ex­plo­sives speed up Water­view work

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JOE DAW­SON

Work is pro­ceed­ing at a rapid pace on New Zealand’s big­gest road­ing job.

At the south­ern end of the Water­view Con­nec­tion, which will link the south­west­ern and north­west­ern mo­tor­ways, things are be­gin­ning to take shape.

It is still early days in the life of what will be a five-year con­struc­tion job, but as the project’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Gez Jones says, things have to move quickly if the 2016 dead­line is to be met.

Those pass­ing by the project at the Water­view end, where the two tun­nels will emerge, will have seen how quickly things can change.

Al­most daily some­thing new hap­pens – houses are re­moved, ma­chines are brought in and road and pedes­trian routes change.

Mr Johns, whose job in­cludes trans­lat­ing the plans of the ‘‘ge­nius’’ de­sign­ers in­volved in the project into lan­guage the pub­lic can un­der­stand, says a huge range of work is be­ing done at any one time.

The main fo­cus in the site within the Alan Wood Re­serve is pre­par­ing the sec­tion which will run un­der­neath what will be­come a Richard­son Rd bridge.

‘‘We’re in full con­struc­tion mode,’’ Mr Johns says.

‘‘The main fo­cus in this site is Richard­son Rd, which we’re ex­ca­vat­ing for now.

‘‘When we start tun­nelling the spoil that comes out will be taken away and hav­ing the bridge built early means we can put trucks on to the mo­tor­way straight away, and not on any lo­cal roads.’’

Strict con­sent con­di­tions guide the progress of the job to make sure the con­struc­tion process is as ef­fi­cient and un­ob­tru­sive as a $1.4 bil­lion project can be.

To trig­ger new stages of the work a range of mit­i­gat­ing tasks also have to be ticked off, in­clud­ing things like cre­at­ing open spa­ces or land­scap­ing.

Mr Johns says dis­rup­tion is an in­evitable part of the job but the Well Con­nected Al­liance – the group of con­trac­tors run­ning the job – is work­ing hard to min­imise the neg­a­tive ef­fects.

Ex­plo­sives are be­ing used to break through the vol­canic rock that needs to be re­moved be­fore the cus­tom-de­signed drilling ma­chine can be­gin tun­nelling through the softer ma­te­rial be­low.

Blasts are used sev­eral times a week and re­quire a clear 50m ra­dius around the ex­plo­sion point.

This means Hen­don Ave res­i­dents are some­times re­quired to leave their homes for up to 20 min­utes.

Those res­i­dents are helped out with vouch­ers.

‘‘What’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing from a lo­cal ge­o­log­i­cal point of view is the vol­canic rock here is so hard it’s break­ing the ma­chines. We have to re­place parts two to three times a day.’’

Work on im­prov­ing ar­eas of the re­serve is un­der way too.

‘‘We’re look­ing to re­land­scape and give it a more nat­u­ral feel,’’ Mr Johns says.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Big pit: Ma­chin­ery works at what will be the en­trance to the Water­view Con­nec­tion tun­nel. Ex­plo­sives are be­ing used to break the hard vol­canic rock ahead of the ar­rival of the tun­nelling ma­chine. Dig­gers have to go down 40m. Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour news.co.nz and click on Lat­est Edition to see more pho­tos of the Water­view Con­nec­tion project. Nat­u­ral feel: Work to re­store Oak­ley Creek to a more nat­u­ral flow is al­ready un­der way.

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