Alice almost ready to plunge
‘‘Alice’’ is getting ever closer to beginning her plunge into the earth.
Assembly of the tunnel boring machine to be used constructing the Waterview Connection is progressing well.
The latest milestone reached is the successful lowering into place of the 350 tonne main drive that will power the project’s giant machine.
The main drive is the critical component that will enable the cutting face of the machine – known as Alice – to rotate and bore the twin tunnels that will connect the northwestern and southwestern motorways.
It was lowered 40 metres into the trench where the machine is being reassembled.
NZ Transport Agency highways manager Tommy Parker says the smooth operation is a definite confidence boost.
‘‘This single operation illustrates that this is a project of unprecedented scale in New Zealand,’’ Mr Parker says.
‘‘To have completed it with such little fuss, as if an everyday task, should give all the project’s stakeholders, which in this case is the whole of New Zealand, great confidence in our team’s ability to meet the many challenges that lie ahead in its safe delivery.’’
The meticulously-planned manoeuvre was carried out using a 600-tonne crane and required the construction of a deep-piled, reinforced crane platform, capable of supporting a weight of almost 1200 tonnes above the trench.
Despite being only a temporary structure, the platform required deeper and longer piles than any of the permanent structures on the entire project.
The machine is due to start tunnelling in late October.
It will bore two tunnels, both 2.4 kilometres long and wide enough for three lanes of traffic in each direction, to complete Auckland’s Western Ring Route.
Getting ready: The tunnel boring machine ‘‘Alice’’ is being put together.
Visit centralleader.co.nz and click Latest Edition to see a video of the main drive installation.