Gully work site a flurry of ac­tiv­ity


‘‘A lot of Welling­to­ni­ans, let alone New Zealan­ders, just won’t have a sense that it’s go­ing on, be­cause it’s a bit out of sight, out of mind.’’

Welling­ton’s re­cent wet weather has not only played havoc on the city’s hill­sides - it has also slowed con­struc­tion of the Trans­mis­sion Gully mo­tor­way.

The $850 mil­lion, four-lane Road of Na­tional Sig­nif­i­cance, which will run for 27 kilo­me­tres be­tween Mack­ays Cross­ing in the north and Lin­den, Tawa, in the south, is still ex­pected to be com­pleted on time in April 2020, but wet weather is not mak­ing that easy.

The cap­i­tal just recorded its ninth wettest July on record, caus­ing more than 400 slips and some flood­ing in the re­gion.

‘‘Win­ter kicked off with a good start in June, but the re­cent wet spells in July have slowed down things a bit,’’ pro­ject di­rec­tor Boyd Knights said.

To­gether with the $630 mil­lion Kapiti ex­press­way fur­ther north, and a pro­ject un­der way to solve con­ges­tion in Welling­ton cen­tral, it is hoped Trans­mis­sion Gully will make the jour­ney in and out of the cap­i­tal safer and faster.

De­scribed as one of the most tech­ni­cally chal­leng­ing road­ing projects ever seen in New Zealand, work so far has al­ready seen 2.2 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of soil moved since con­struc­tion be­gan in 2014.

Al­most 350,000 cu­bic me­tres has been moved this win­ter alone, with a to­tal of 6.5 mil­lion to be cut be­fore its com­ple­tion. (To try and put some of that in per­spec­tive a 50m-long Olympic swim­ming pool can hold 2500 cu­bic me­tres.)

While not much can be seen of the road’s progress while driv­ing past the con­struc­tion site on the ex­ist­ing State High­way 1, re­cent aerial pho­tos re­veal the road is start­ing to take shape.

A ma­jor mile­stone is ex­pected to be achieved this spring, when 9500 cu­bic me­tres of con­crete is ex­pected to be poured to form the foun­da­tions of the two piers which will sup­port the 230m-long, 60m-high Can­nons Creek Bridge - one of 25 bridges needed for the pro­ject.

Once com­pleted, four in­ter­changes and two new link roads, in Wai­tan­girua and Whitby, will con­nect the mo­tor­way to Mack­ays, State High­way 58 (Hay­wards Hill), east­ern Porirua, and Kenepuru.

As of April, more than 2 mil­lion worker hours had al­ready gone into the pro­ject, which Trans­port Min­is­ter Si­mon Bridges de­scribed as a ‘‘beast’’.

‘‘One of the re­mark­able things about this is a lot of Welling­to­ni­ans, let alone New Zealan­ders, just won’t have a sense that it’s go­ing on, be­cause it’s a bit out of sight, out of mind,’’ Bridges has said.

South­bound traf­fic on State High­way 1 at Lin­den was moved to tem­po­rary lanes in the cen­tral me­dian on Fri­day, so the reg­u­lar lanes could be used for work on the Collins St over­bridge.

The pro­ject, man­aged bythe Welling­ton Gate­way Part­ner­ship has come a long way, but still has a long way to go.

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