Faulty sprinklers delay tunnel opening
The country’s biggest ever roading project has been held up by faulty sprinklers.
The $1.6 billion Waterview Connection won’t be completed for at least two more months, although it was set to be opened in April.
And there will be no penalty payments to hold any agencies accountable for the blunder.
The New Zealand Transport Agency’s Auckland highway manager, Brett Gliddon, said on Friday that setting up the tunnel’s systems was taking longer than expected.
There had been issues with its fire sprinklers.
‘‘We have a deluge system, and it’s got valves in it that let the water out, and we found some of those were sticking - they just weren’t opening properly.
‘‘So we just had to change a part within them, and once you do that you’ve got to go back and check the system and make sure it’s all right,’’ Gliddon said.
‘‘There’s a couple of hundred valves, they weren’t all sticking - there was only an intermittent issue with them - but we weren’t willing to take the risk.’’
He was adamant the fix was inexpensive.
‘‘It’s actually only a small part and it’s not likely to be a huge cost.’’
The tunnel’s ventilation system also wasn’t up to scratch.
‘‘We had a bit of an intermittent fault with the jet fans, where the communication system wasn’t working perfectly, so we had to do a software change just to make sure it was working 100 per cent.’’
‘‘While this work is taking longer than we’d have liked, the Waterview Connection has been in construction for five years and short delays like this are not uncommon for a project of this size and complexity.’’
In 2016, Gliddon said 140,000 pots of paint, 4000 light bulbs and five Olympic-sized swimming pools of water had been used on the project.
He said people would not understand the significance of the project until they get the chance to drive through.
The 2.4km tunnel and ring road will connect Auckland’s northwestern and southwestern motorways. It’s the last piece in the Western Ring Route puzzle, which is expected to reduce innercity traffic.
It was now expected to open ‘‘within the next two to three months,’’ depending on testing and commissioning work.
This 2.4km tunnel will connect two of Auckland’s motorways and is expected to divert traffic away from the inner city.