Waterview project gathers pace
Work is proceeding at a rapid pace on New Zealand's biggest roading project, the Waterview Connection.
It may be early days in the five-year project - which will link the Southwestern and Northwestern motorways - but as communications manager Gez Johns says, things have to move quickly if the 2016 deadline is to be met.
Commuters passing by the project at the Waterview end, where two tunnels will emerge, are able to see how quickly the project is coming along.
Almost daily something new happens: houses are removed, road and pedestrian routes are changed.
"We're in full construction mode," Johns said.
"The main focus in this site is Richardson Rd, which we're excavating for now.
"When we start tunnelling, the spoil that comes out will be taken away and having the bridge built early means we can put trucks onto the motorway straight away, and not on any local roads."
Strict consent conditions are in place to make sure the construction process is as efficient and unobtrusive as a $1.4 billion project can be.
To trigger new stages of the work a range of mitigating tasks have to be ticked off, including landscaping.
Johns said disruption is an inevitable part of the job but the Well Connected Alliance - the group of contractors running the project - is working hard to minimise the negative effects.
Explosives are being used to break through volcanic rock that needs to be removed before drilling can begin to tunnel through softer material below.
Blasts are used several times a week and require a clear 50m radius around the explosion point. This means Hendon Ave residents are sometimes required to leave their homes for up to 20 minutes.
Those residents are helped out with vouchers.
Work on improving parts of the reserve are under way too.
"What we're looking to do is re-landscape it and give it a more natural feel," Johns said.