Painting has started on the noise walls along sections of the NZ Transport Agency's SH18 Hobsonville Deviation and SH16 Brigham Creek Extension motorway project as completion of the of the new highway takes a step closer.
The wooden walls are between three and four and a half metres high and will be painted bright orange with patterns overlaid in 3D relief. They are being installed alongside the motorway lanes to reduce traffic noise to neighbouring homes and businesses.
The distinctive orange colour of the walls is an indirect reference to clays used by the ceramics industry that was once based in the area. The same colour is represented in the tiles lining the Clarks Lane footbridge over the motorway.
Once painted, Helensville artist Jeff Thomson will add a 'tyre track' design inspired by vehicles travelling along Muriwai Beach. The coloured 'tread' relief patterns will feature along the 700 metres of noise wall included on the project to create New Zealand's largest public artwork. Plantings of native shrubs around the walls will also help to maintain the natural environment.
Urban design specialists Jasmax collaborated with the NZTA, Jeff Thomson and Auckland Council (formerly Waitakere City Council) on the walls project, which is just one part of an overall arts programme for the Hobsonville motorway.
Jeff Thomson says the project is much bigger than anything he has worked on before.
"I actually spent two years walking throughout New Zealand in the early 1980s making small artworks on letterboxes for people I met along the way, so it feels quite natural that I'm now back making art on the roadside, although on a much larger scale," he says.
Other art works associated with the project include the Sinton Windows installed by artist John Radford and the clay tiles by artists Matt and Kate McLean.
"It is a good opportunity to show that there is more to constructing a new motorway than concrete and asphalt," says the NZTA's State Highways Manager for Auckland, Tommy Parker. "The noise walls not only fulfil a practical purpose but add some visual character along sections of the motorway."
The noise walls are being erected alongside the motorway at Hobsonville Road near Westgate, Squadron Drive, Sinton Road, Trig Road and Brigham Creek Road roundabout with SH16. The NZTA is also investigating looking to incorporate design elements at Lincoln Road and other interchanges so that the theme is similar along the Northwestern Motorway.
The six kilometre, four-lane Hobsonville motorway is the last section to be completed of the new SH18 as part of the strategic Western Ring Route, which will create a motorway alternative to SH1 and help to ease congestion through central Auckland. The project also includes a three kilometre-long four lane extension of the Northwestern Motorway [SH16} to a new roundabout at Brigham Creek Road.
The NZTA plans to complete the $220M project in September, six months ahead of schedule. The new motorway will help to reduce congestion on Hobsonville Road and open up access to the growing Northwest region of Auckland.