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.