The NZ Transport Agency formally completed work on Auckland's Newmarket Viaduct Replacement Project today (15 March 2013) at a ceremony led by the Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key.
The $244m project attracted worldwide attention for ground breaking engineering techniques employed to keep New Zealand’s busiest section of motorway open while the old viaduct was removed and the new one constructed.
The NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker, says project’s workers and the people of New Zealand can jointly take pride from the successful completion of the new viaduct.
“The innovation and engineering skill used on this project has attracted a huge amount of attention overseas. Almost a quarter of a million vehicles use the viaduct and the streets under it every day, and to keep that traffic moving with a minimum of disruption is a remarkable and outstanding achievement .”
Mr Parker says one of the keys to success was the support and co-operation the project received from drivers.
“With many of our project team working within centimetres of a live high-speed motorway, that support was critical. The best way we can say ‘thank you’ is to successfully complete a viaduct that is seismically stronger, with wider lanes for safer travel, and that has improved driving all the way from the Auckland Harbour Bridge to the Greenlane interchange – the busiest section of Auckland’s motorway network.”
Mr Parker says it is not only the patience of drivers who have contributed to the successful project.
“A project this big has caused a fair amount of disruption at ground level, but Newmarket has been a fantastic neighbour and we hope all our work here will help enhance the community.”
The Prime Minister unveiled a plaque to mark the end of construction. Mr Key was accompanied by the Minister of Transport, Hon Gerry Brownlee, officials from the NZTA and the Newmarket Connection Alliance which constructed the new viaduct, Ngati Whatua leaders, and city and community leaders.
The project was completed in four stages. A new southbound viaduct was constructed first and the old southbound viaduct then removed. In the space where it had stood since the 1960s, the new northbound lanes were constructed. The fourth stage was the removal of the old northbound viaduct.
One of the project’s key innovations was the use of the 860 tonne launching gantry known as Big Blue, which lifted or lowered more than 900 segments of concrete weighing on average 70 tonnes.
“The gantry’s winning performance is a reflection of the skills at Newmarket demonstrated throughout the project,” Mr Parker says. “The gantry team usually had to work in the dark, and in all weathers to ensure their work continued on time and safely.”
The project involved more than 1.6 million man hours of work. About a third of those – or 450,000 – were spent on high risk works and Mr Parker says the safety record won national and international recognition.
“New Zealand’s construction industry will benefit from the knowledge that has been gained and shared, and the standards that have been in safety management at Newmarket,” he says
The Newmarket Viaduct Replacement Project was undertaken by the NGA Newmarket Alliance of NZTA with its partners, Leighton Contractors, Fulton Hogan, VSL, URS, Beca, Boffa Miskell and Tonkin & Taylor.
Mr Parker says Newmarket is one in a series of projects and investments that are part of the NZTA’s long term strategy to improve Auckland’s transport connections
“The innovation and skill demonstrated so well at Newmarket will continue. Whether it’s freight or people, or objective is to provide more travel choices, more travel reliability and more travel safety,” says Mr Parker.