Alice is all set for the rab­bit hole

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JOE DAW­SON

For­ward mo­tion for the huge tun­nel bor­ing ma­chine Alice is to be­gin within days and those run­ning the Water­view Con­nec­tion job say its progress should not dis­rupt nearby res­i­dents.

The ma­chine was for­mally launched last week and will spend a year head­ing south from Owairaka to Water­view be­fore turn­ing around to bore a sec­ond tun­nel.

At its launch on Thurs­day the ma­chine was fired up for a few cer­e­mo­nial ro­ta­tions of the drill.

While the mo­tors driv­ing it are re­mark­ably quiet NZTA Auck­land high­ways man­ager Tommy Parker says the noisy bit comes when it en­gages with the rock face.

‘‘But it’s not deaf­en­ing and we don’t an­tic­i­pate any in­con­ve­nience for lo­cal res­i­dents at all,’’ he says.

‘‘As we dug the trench we came through a thick layer of basalt rock and got into the softer rock un­der­neath, now as we go for­ward that (harder) rock will form a cap that will pro­tect the sur­face from any vi­bra­tion, noise or set­tle­ment.’’ At the cer­e­mony dig­ni­taries in­clud­ing Trans­port Min­is­ter Gerry Brown­lee and Auck­land Mayor Len Brown were on hand to give ‘‘Alice’’ a send­off.

But the hon­our of press­ing the ig­ni­tion went to South Auck­land boy Bran­den Hall, 10, who won the com­pe­ti­tion to name the gi­ant ma­chine.

The mo­ment rep­re­sented a sig­nif­i­cant event in New Zealand’s in­fra­struc­ture his­tory – more than 50 years af­ter the idea of a western ring route to link the North­west­ern and South­west­ern mo­tor­ways was con­ceived.

‘‘Auck­land has for decades had a plan to have the city bet­ter con­nected and it’s all been done a bit piece­meal, so this is a sig­nif­i­cant step for- ward,’’ Mr Brown­lee says.

And de­spite cen­sus data show­ing growth in the city is not as fast as thought it is still crit­i­cal to pro­ceed with ma­jor projects like the Water­view Con­nec­tion, he says.

‘‘I take the view that that sort of in­for­ma­tion is in­ter­est­ing but if we ac­tu­ally have the in­fra­struc­ture it makes life eas­ier for peo­ple and we will be ahead of the curve when we do get that pop­u­la­tion growth.’’

Mr Brown says the western ring route has been part of the city’s think­ing since the 1950s so it was good to be here al­most ‘‘70 years down the track’’.

‘‘It’s the first of three tun­nel bor­ing ma­chines I would like to see used in Auck­land, I’d like to re­cy­cle it into the City Rail Link and the sec­ond har­bour cross­ing.’’

The ma­chine will bore two 2.4km tun­nels, both wide enough for three lanes of traf­fic in each di­rec­tion.

It will spend the next year head­ing north at depths of up to 45 me­tres be­fore be­ing spun around for the re­turn jour­ney.

As it pro­gresses


will in­stall more than 24,000 pre­cast con­crete seg­ments to line the tun­nels.

Drilling in earnest will be­gin in the next week once fi­nal prepa­ra­tions are made.

The tun­nel opens in 2017.

Big mo­ment: Trans­port Min­is­ter Gerry Brown­lee and Bran­den Hall, 10, who won the com­pe­ti­tion to name the ma­chine, get ready to push the but­ton to fire it up.


Haere ra: Kids from Water­view Pri­mary were on hand to launch ‘‘Alice’’.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour to see more pho­tos from the cer­e­mony and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to see a video clip of Water­view Pri­mary pupils per­form­ing a wa­iata to com­mem­o­rate the launch of the tun­nel bor­ing ma­chine.

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