Christchurch’s ‘gateway arches’ are taking shape, signalling the start of some challenging work for the project team forming the sculptural structure.
The arches and a major interchange are being constructed at the intersection of Russley Road and Memorial Avenue, near Christchurch Airport, as part of the $112 million State Highway 1 Russley Road Upgrade(external link).
The gateway arches will be one of the first things travellers and returning locals see when entering the city from the airport. The arches are expected to become a powerful symbol for Christchurch and form part of the future identity of the city.
Architecturally designed by Warren and Mahoney, they symbolise the crossing of paths, the Southern Alps and braided rivers of the Canterbury Plains and the excitement of travel.
NZ Transport Agency Highway Manager Colin Knaggs says people will start to notice the arches go up over the next few months.
“The arches are made up of 30 separate sections. Each section will be welded together piece by piece,” he says. “Nineteen metre towers will be used as a base for the welding and steel work to be completed.
“Once finished, the arches will weigh 400 tonne and the highest point will stand 27 metres above Memorial Avenue.”
Mr Knaggs says the McConnell Dowell/Downer joint venture contracted to construct the Russley Road Upgrade is well aware of the challenge ahead as they start work on the arches.
“The overall project is 75 per cent complete but the most testing part is ahead,” he says.
“The team will be working to piece together a very unique puzzle, at height. The combination of geometry and the change in the cross section of the arches makes this a tough job but one the team is well prepared for.”
Arch sections began arriving on site in December 2016 and in January the project team began locking a 23-tonne ‘knuckle’ into place, the first of four.
The knuckles are the most vital parts of the structure, creating the curve and intersections for both of the arches and connecting them with the supporting piles in the ground.
The project team aims to finish the arches by mid-2017. The overall project is on track to be finished by December 2018.