The Victoria Park Tunnel structure in central Auckland was completed during the weekend when the last of 366 beams weighing 30-tonnes each were placed over the final opening in the roof.
The NZ Transport Agency’s State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker, says the 450 metere-long tunnel structure was completed in just 15 months, with the positioning of the last beams on Saturday (2 July), and the tunnel remains on track to open to traffic on 7 November, three months early.
Placement of the last beams clears the way for an increase in activity out of sight inside the tunnel.
Below ground, the electrical and mechanical services needed to operate the tunnel safely are being installed. These included lights, extraction fans and communication and fire protection systems. The tunnel’s fire lining is 80 per cent complete and traffic barriers are being built.
“The Alliance responsible for the Vic Park project (NZTA, Fletcher Construction, Beca, Parsons Brinckerhoff and Higgins) has moved construction along at an extraordinary pace. Grass is now growing again where, just a few months ago, there were more than a dozen cranes and drilling rigs operating in thick mud,” says Mr Parker.
Work is underway to reinstate trees, grassed areas and paths on top of the tunnel under Victoria Park. A new skatepark is taking shape on the site of the original one in Beaumont Street, and an Auckland Council art project is also progressing to brighten the underside of the Victoria Park flyover.
Mr Parker said the Victoria Park Tunnel project aimed to return all but a very small section of the park to the community before the start of the Rugby World Cup in early September. It would also reopen the popular Jacobs Ladder staircase and the new walkway connecting it to Beaumont Street.
Across Victoria Street, work to build a new Wellington Street motorway on ramp and the tunnel approach was continuing. Mr Parker says this area would also be totally transformed as the project comes to an end.
The Victoria Park Tunnel project will be the first of the seven roads of national significance identified by the Government as essential to New Zealand’s economic prosperity to be completed. Together, the tunnel, the reconfigured existing viaduct, and extra southbound capacity from the Newmarket Viaduct to Greenlane, will remove the last remaining bottleneck on the motorway network through central Auckland and provide more reliable and safer journeys.
Mr Parker says that while the tunnel will open to two lanes of traffic in early November, it will be January before Auckland experiences the full benefits of the Victoria Park Tunnel and its associated motorway widening through St Marys Bay.
“Once northbound traffic is using the tunnel, we will reconfigure the Victoria Park flyover to carry southbound traffic. Our aim is to have all three northbound lanes in the tunnel and all four southbound lanes using the flyover by mid-January.”
The NZTA and its Alliance partners plan an extensive campaign to educate drivers about the new layout for motorway lanes.
“The changes will be extensive, particularly for people driving southbound over the existing viaduct,” Mr Parker says.
For more information please contact:
Auckland Media Manager
NZ Transport Agency
T +64 9 9288720
M +64 27 2137616