New drone footage shows Western Belfast Bypass progress two years after work started

The NZ Transport Agency has released new drone footage of the Western Belfast Bypass (WBB) which shows how well the project is progressing.

View the new Western Belfast Bypass drone footage(external link)

The bypass is part of the Government’s Christchurch Roads of National Significance(external link) programme, a multi-million dollar plan to make it easier and safer to travel throughout Christchurch and the Canterbury region.

The project will see a new four-lane, 5km stretch of highway constructed. Bypassing Belfast, it will extend the Christchurch Northern Motorway (SH1) and connect into State Highway 1 (SH1) Johns Road, west of The Groynes entrance.

NZ Transport Agency Christchurch Highways Manager, Colin Knaggs says the project, which got underway two years ago this month, is about 80 per cent complete.

'Over 375,000 hours have been worked on this project so far and it is progressing well as this drone footage shows,' Mr Knaggs says.

'The Fulton Hogan construction team are currently focusing on three new bridges which will carry the Western Belfast Bypass above Groynes Drive and Dickeys Road, and over a new onramp that will link Main North Road to the Northern Motorway.'

These three structures are a major part of the project and are now close to being finished which is a great milestone for the project team. 

Mr Knaggs says a lot of the work that went into these bridges is underground, hidden from view.

'Before the project team could start building they had to carry out ground improvement work, constructing around 2400 columns of gravel and stone into the ground to make it denser,' he says.

'This reduces the effects of liquefaction and ensures the bridge embankments remain stable, preventing damage to the bridge structures during an earthquake.'

In addition, more than 30 steel encased reinforced concrete piles support each structure and extend 18 to 20metres below ground level.

The drone footage shows the 2km long mid-section of the project which has been out of public view during construction.

'Aside from some road marking and other minor finishing touches, this section of the project is also close to being finished,' Mr Knaggs says.

Over the next two months the project team will be working hard to reopen the new-look entrance to The Groynes and finishing a new pedestrian subway that will take Waimairi Walkway and Otukaikino Track users under the Western Belfast Bypass near Dickeys Road, along with other road work.

The bypass is expected to be complete by early 2018. It will reduce congestion and travel times and provide a better and safer link throughout greater Christchurch.

Drone footage and more information about the WBB project can be found here(external link).  

Facts and figures

  • The project will cost $122 million to build.
  • The project started in May 2015 and will be finished by early 2018.
  • On opening, the bypass will carry around 24,000 vehicles per day.
  • 600,000 cubic metres of gravel is being carted from the Waimakariri River and McLeans Island quarries for the project.
  • 118,000 plants, shrubs and trees will be planted. Most of these are grown from seeds and cuttings sourced from native plants in the Canterbury area.
  • More than 2000 native fish (including long fin and short fin eels, giant bully and inanga) have been rescued and relocated to other parts of the waterway.
  • 120,000 square metres (the size of 14 rugby fields) of geotextile fabric has been installed in overpass embankments to provide additional stability.
  • 52km of wire rope will be used in the safety barriers running along the median and along the sides of the new highway.