The NZ Transport Agency has announced two significant developments relating to improvements on Auckland's Northwestern Motorway (State Highway 16) as part of its programme of works to complete the city's Western Ring Route.
It is calling for registrations of interest to upgrade the Northwestern Motorway's causeway across the Waitemata harbour - a $270m project to widen and raise 4.2 kilometres of the causeway.
The NZTA also announced today that it will start preliminary work on the project in January when it builds a trial causeway parallel to the existing motorway in order to measure the impact the project will have on an important marine reserve.
The motorway, and the 50 metre-long temporary causeway, are located inside the Motu Manawa - Pollen Island Marine Reserve.
The NZTA's State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker, says the temporary causeway will provide valuable information to ensure that the construction footprint inside the reserve will be as environmentally light as possible.
"We will be working in a sensitive environment and building the temporary causeway is important for the overall success of the project," says Mr Parker. "The trial will ensure that we've got the right approach and the right methodology in place when we are ready to start construction."
NZTA contractors will focus on monitoring plants and wildlife in the marine area to minimise the impact of building the improved motorway. Work on the trial causeway is scheduled to be completed in June.
Interested parties have until 21 December to submit their registrations of interest for the project to deliver the design and construction required to upgrade the causeway and the Rosebank and Patiki interchanges, widen bridges and improve pedestrian and cycle facilities.
Mr Parker says a competitive alliance procurement model - involving a consortium of companies submitting a tender together - has proven successful on other NZTA projects including the Manukau Harbour Crossing and the recently awarded Waterview Connection project.
"We're adopting the same model for the Causeway upgrade project to enable the NZTA to get the best value for money and deliver Auckland drivers an operational Western Ring Route by 2021. We expect to receive registrations of interest from industry experts from here and overseas, to take forward into the next stage," says Mr Parker.
Early next year, after registered parties have submitted their design and construction records and skills, the NZTA will shortlist three consortia and start a rigorous investigation of their bids before announcing the successful one in September 2012. Construction is expected to start in early 2013, with completion earmarked for 2017 to match the extra capacity provided by the Waterview tunnels and Great North Road Interchange.
The $2b Western Ring Route is one of the Government's seven roads of national significance projects to support and enable economic growth for the country. It involves extending the Southwestern Motorway (SH20) to link with the Northwestern Motorway at the Great North Road Interchange, together with additional lanes to increase traffic capacity along the Northwestern Motorway from the St Lukes Road Interchange to the new Hobsonville Motorway ((SH18) at Westgate.
Once completed, the Western Ring Route will provide a 48-kilometre alternative to SH1 and the Auckland Harbour Bridge through south, west and north Auckland. It will reduce congestion, provide more reliable travel times for both freight and people, and improve connections between the city and Auckland International Airport.