Alice al­most ready to plunge

Central Leader - - NEWS -

‘‘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.

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