Alice here and ready to roll

Central Leader - - NEWS -

The gi­ant ma­chine known as Alice that will bore the tun­nels for the Water­view Con­nec­tion sailed into Auck­land this week af­ter its three-week voy­age from China.

The tun­nel bor­ing ma­chine berthed at the Ports of Auck­land’s Waitem­ata ter­mi­nal on board the BBC Ge­or­gia, a con­tainer ship char­tered for the voy­age.

The ma­chine was dis­man­tled for ship­ping and ar­rived like a gi­ant mec­cano set, in 100 sep­a­rate pieces, in­clud­ing 20 con­tain­ers of small parts.

‘‘It’s a long-awaited and ex­cit­ing ar­rival mark­ing the next phase to com­plete the coun­try’s big­gest road­ing pro­ject,’’ NZ Trans­port Agency state high­ways man­ager for Auck­land and North­land Tommy Parker says.

As the con­tainer ship berthed it was greeted by Ngati Whatua el­ders and a 14 me­tre di­am­e­ter art work – the same size as the ma­chine’s cut­ting head – that recog­nises both the cul­tural and fu­ture sig­nif­i­cance of the Water­view Con­nec­tion.

Un­load­ing the ship started im­me­di­ately and it will take 10 days to trans­port all the parts to the pro­ject’s south­ern por­tal at Owairaka, where it will be re­assem­bled.

Thir­teen of the 100 loads will be over-sized and they will be moved at night to min­imise dis­rup­tion to other traf­fic.

All roads be­ing used for trans­port will re­main open with the ex­cep­tion of the San­dring­ham Rd ex­ten­sion and the Maioro St south­bound mo­tor­way on-ramp on two nights, which will al­low trucks to ac­cess the con­struc­tion site via a spe­cially built haul route from the South­west­ern Mo­tor­way.

Alice is the 10th big­gest ma­chine of its kind in the world. It has been cus­tom-built to bore twin tun­nels 2.4 kilo­me­tres long and up to 45m deep to con­nect Auck­land’s North­west­ern (SH16) and South­west­ern (SH20) mo­tor­ways with three lanes of traf­fic in each di­rec­tion.

The $1.4

bil­lion Water­view Con­nec­tion is the big­gest of sev­eral Trans­port Agency projects un­der way or planned to com­plete the Western Ring Route – an al­ter­na­tive mo­tor­way for Auck­land that will im­prove city and re­gional trans­port links as part of the Govern­ment’s roads of national sig­nif­i­cance pro­gramme to help eco­nomic growth.

It will take three months to re­assem­ble the gi­ant ma­chine

Tun­nelling is ex­pected to start at the end of Oc­to­ber.

Alice: The gi­ant tun­nel bor­ing ma­chine is in New Zealand.

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