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Blue skies over Newmarket signal speedy progress on road to Rugby World Cup

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Progress on Stage 1 of the NZ Transport Agency's Newmarket Connection: Viaduct Replacement Project stepped up a gear in February as the 'Big Blue' construction gantry launched into action.

Progress on Stage 1 of the NZ Transport Agency’s Newmarket Connection: Viaduct Replacement Project stepped up a gear in February as the ‘Big Blue’ construction gantry launched into action.

140 metres long, towering 20 metres above the existing Newmarket Viaduct and weighing in at over 800 tonnes, the Big Blue is as visible as it is effective, and will play a key role in keeping Auckland moving through the staged replacement of the Newmarket Viaduct (flyover). 

Initially positioned on the first full column-to-column span of the new southbound motorway bridge (which had been completed late last year by conventional crane), the gantry has already installed 19 segments at the northern end of the new bridge in its first full week of operation. Over the coming months it will lift a further 150 individual segments into place to complete the new southbound structure.

“By using this specialist equipment, rather than constructing entirely by conventional crane, we are able to  work more efficiently and keep the motorway open in both directions throughout the replacement process,” explains Tommy Parker, NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland & Northland. “Importantly it will help us to construct Stage 1 of the project - the new four-lane southbound motorway bridge – fast enough to increase capacity in time for the Rugby World Cup.”

The new southbound bridge should be operational by as early as October this year, however only three lanes will initially be opened to traffic. This will allow for dismantling work to begin on the old southbound bridge immediately adjacent. The fourth lane across the new bridge will open in February 2011, to tie in with the motorway expansion from Market Road that will see southbound capacity enhanced as far as Greenlane.

Once the old southbound half of the existing Newmarket Viaduct has been removed, the new northbound bridge will then be built in its place and twinned with the new southbound bridge. Following the final stage of the replacement process, the removal of the old northbound lanes, this will ultimately create a wider, stronger, safer and more sustainable new Newmarket Viaduct, standing 13 metres to the northeast of the current structure.

Staged replacement sequence, once southbound traffic has been moved on to the new viaduct

Staged replacement sequence, once southbound traffic has been moved on to the new viaduct

"With so much construction activity taking place next to the live motorway during this vital upgrade, motorway users need to be aware of potential visual distractions when driving over Newmarket, and stick to the reduced speed limits at all times," adds Mr Parker. "Those travelling at night should take extra care and anticipate longer journey times, as lane closures will often be in place."

For more information on the Newmarket Connection: Viaduct Replacement Project, visit www.nzta.govt.nz/newmarketconnection(external link) or call the 24 hour project freephone number 0508 CONNECT (266 6328). Click the link below to watch a 90-second video outlining why you should Slow Down Over Newmarket(external link).

For all media enquiries please contact:

Ewart Barnsley
Auckland Media Manager
DDI:  09 928 8720
Mob:  027 2137616
Email: ewart.barnsley@nzta.govt.nz

Images of the Big Blue gantry

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High definition video footage and photos are available on request.
Email: gez.johns@nzta.govt.nz

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