Billion dollar roading project begins

02:22, Aug 02 2012

Construction of the Waterview Connection's two 2.4km-long motorway tunnels got underway today with a groundbreaking ceremony in West Auckland.

Prime Minister John and Mayor Len Brown and other government and New Zealand Transport Agency representatives joined members of the Waterview community at Allan Wood reserve, Owairaka, for a turning of the sod ceremony.

Key officially turned the first soil for the excavation of the tunnels' southern approach trench.

The trench, which will be excavated to a depth of 30m, will be where the 85m-long tunnel boring machine will be assembled before beginning work next year.

The 5km $1.4 billion project, which will include the tunnels between Owairaka and Waterview, will provide a new six-lane motorway link between SH16 (the Southwestern Motorway) and SH20 (the Northwestern Motorway) to complete Auckland's Western Ring Route. It is New Zealand's largest and most complex roading project to date.

Former Transport Minister Steven Joyce stood in for Gerry Brownlee at the ceremony today.


He told those at the gathering the ceremony was an exciting milestone for everybody concerned.

"I think we'll end up something we can all be proud of that will actually improve the amenity of Auckland".

NZTA State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker said when the southern approach trench was complete, the tunnel boring machine would descend to 45m beneath the surface, passing below hard volcanic rock and leaving intact the open space, communities and commercial precincts above.

"To create the launch pad for the machine, we first have to excavate through a significant chunk of this basalt to reach the softer soil conditions below, and that is the process we have officially begun today," Parker said.

Excavation of the trench will involve a series of controlled explosions.

"This not only allows the excavation to be carried out faster, it also significantly decreases the impact felt by local residents as it reduces the amount of traditional rock-breaking activity required. Basalt retrieved through this process will be used throughout the project, and for landscaping."

Watch a 3D animation of how the Waterview Connection project will be built online.

Auckland Now