The NZ Transport Agency confirms that the southbound half of the new Newmarket Viaduct - Stage 1 of the Newmarket Connection: Viaduct Replacement Project - is to open to motorway traffic on Monday, 6 September.
The NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland, Tommy Parker, says this represents a significant acceleration on the original construction programme.
“It will allow the NZTA to deliver on its promise of four lanes south on the Southern Motorway [State Highway 1] from the viaduct to the Greenlane interchange by the Rugby World Cup, more than 6 months ahead of schedule,” says Mr Parker.
The announcement follows the installation of the 234th and final segment of the new southbound viaduct at its southern abutment by the St Marks Rd on-ramp. Installation of beams for the new Gillies Ave bridge, which will connect the north end of the viaduct to the motorway, will commence tonight to create a continuous structure over 700 metres in length.
Over the next seven weeks, the new highway surface will be prepared and solid edge barriers and lighting installed to ready the new bridge for traffic. Both the surface and barriers have been designed to maximise safety and acoustic control across the new structure, and will help to not only enhance motorway efficiency, but reduce this vital motorway link’s footprint on the surrounding Newmarket community.
"The innovative, staged approach to delivery has allowed us to make this swift progress on the new bridge without compromising what is the busiest stretch of motorway in the country,” says Mr Parker. “The Newmarket Connection project will also provide a number of long-term benefits for the surrounding community, and the project team has worked closely with the local business community to minimise inconvenience through construction on Auckland’s premier retail suburb."
Above: 3 lanes of the new southbound viaduct will open to traffic on September 6, 2010
When the new southbound viaduct opens in September, three lanes will initially be in operation, as some dismantling of the existing bridge is required before the fourth lane can be commissioned. During this stage, the project’s highly visible ‘Big Blue’ construction gantry will be positioned between southbound and northbound traffic.
The fourth lane is likely to open no later than January, 2011, to coincide with the completion the fourth southbound lane addition to the Southern Motorway from Market Road to Greenlane.
“The early delivery of a fourth southbound lane will be a huge bonus for the 160,000 vehicle owners who travel over Newmarket every day. Importantly, along with the capacity improvements associated with the Manukau Harbour Crossing and the connection of the Southern and Southwestern motorways at Manukau, this upgrade will allow Auckland’s motorway network to be performing better than ever in time for the Rugby World Cup,” says Mr Parker.
“In the meantime, given the many visual distractions associated with these construction works, it’s vital that all motorists continue to drive with caution through the central motorway network, and respect the temporary speed reductions which allow us to work safely so close to the live motorway,” Mr Parker adds.
Note to editors: In the event of adverse weather condition over the weekend of September 4-5, the opening of the new viaduct could be delayed.
For more information on the Newmarket Connection: Viaduct Replacement Project visit, www.nzta.govt.nz/newmarketconnection(external link)