T-for-trench party with Alice
The public has just one chance to get up close to Alice before she begins her journey earthward.
The giant tunnel boring machine which will drill the $1.4 billion Waterview Connection will be open to view on October 13.
She has been dubbed Alice because her journey is reminiscent of that depicted in Alice in Wonderland.
The custom-designed machine is being reassembled on site and will begin tunnelling in November.
The event will allow closeup viewing of Alice from within the trench, less than three weeks before tunnelling begins.
With a 14.5 metre diameter cutting face, and weighing in at over 3600 tonnes, Alice is the world’s tenth largest tunnel boring machine, and will be the largest ever to be used in the southern hemisphere.
New Zealand Transport Agency spokesman Tommy Parker says the event will give New Zealanders the chance to see one of the world’s true mega-machines before it is put to work.
‘‘The $55 million boring machine will not only excavate the ground, it will build the tunnels as it goes, leaving a circular concrete lining in its wake and ultimately taking 2.5 kilometres of motorway underground,’’ the State Highways manager for Auckland and Northland says.
The Waterview Connection is by far the biggest project NZTA has ever undertaken and Mr Parker says the open day will also allow visitors to see other elements of its unprecedented scope and scale.
The open day walkway will pass alongside new bridges, sports fields, wetlands and stream improvements that have already been completed, before descending beneath a 15m shelf of volcanic rock into the excavated trench.
Visitors will also see the conveyor that will be used to extract the tunnels’ 800,000 cubic metres of spoil.
To safely accommodate up to 20,000 visitors over the course of the day, entrance to the walkway will be by prebooked ticket only.
Tickets will provide 30-minute windows for entry to the walkway, between 10am and 3.30pm, and will be available on a first-comefirst-served basis from today via nzta.govt.nz/water viewconnection and facebook .com/AliceTBM.
Big job: The view looking back from what will be the tunnel portal.