Tunnel closer as borer now at sea
The world’s 10th largest tunnel boring machine is on its way to Auckland to construct the Waterview Connection twin tunnels.
The machine left Guangzhou in south-east China last week and is due to arrive in Auckland in the next 10 days.
Because of its size the machine has been broken down into 97 separate pieces of cargo, including 20 containers of small parts.
It will be re-assembled at the bottom of a 30m-deep trench in Owairaka before boring of the two 2.4km-long Waterview motorway tunnels starts at the end of October.
The Waterview Connection will link the Northwestern (State Highway 16) and Southwestern ( SH20) motorways to complete the Western Ring Route.
New Zealand Transport Agency Auckland and Northland state highways manager Tommy Parker says, at $1.4 billion, the job is the biggest single roading project ever undertaken by the agency and will remove Auckland’s reliance on a single motorway corridor, State Highway 1 and the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
‘‘We are planning to have traffic using the tunnels by the end of 2016,’’ he says.
When the machine has landed it will be trucked to Owairaka over 10 days.
Some of the 97 loads will be oversize and will be moved through city streets at night to keep disruption to a minimum.
The machine will be re-assembled inside the motorway trench.
It is the largest machine ever built for use in Australasia and has been designed specifically for the area’s geology.
However, the tunnel boring machine still needs a name. Tunnellers’ superstition demands that such machines are given a woman’s name before tunnelling begins.
People are being asked to choose from four possible names short-listed from more than 500 put forward by Auckland primary school children.
Go to stuff.co.nz and click on the business page to vote.
The winning name will be announced on Friday.