The Prime Minister, John Key, today turned the first spade of soil marking the official start of work on the NZ Transport Agency’s $220m upgrade of the Northwestern Motorway (State Highway 16) causeway in west Auckland.
The upgrade is one of six connected infrastructure projects to join the Northwestern and Southwestern (SH20) motorways as part of the Western Ring Route road of national significance to improve both city and North Island regional transport connections.
At this morning’s ceremony, Mr Key was joined by the Minister of Transport, Gerry Brownlee, Auckland Council and NZTA representatives, elders from Te Kawerau a Maki and Ngati Whatua and the Causeway Alliance responsible for the upgrade.
The 4.8km-long Causeway Upgrade Project will raise and widen the existing six-lane causeway and add extra lanes between Great North Road (Waterview) and Te Atatu interchanges. This will prevent flooding onto the motorway during extreme high tides and weather conditions.
“The Causeway Upgrade Project is one part of our programme of works to complete the Western Ring Route – a motorway alternative to SH1- that will have a significant impact for people driving in Auckland and for those driving through the city,” says the NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker.
The projects that will link the two motorways are:-
“This is a massive amount of work and the challenge for the NZTA is to coordinate all these projects and have them completed by the time we plan to have traffic using the tunnels at Waterview at the end of 2016,” Mr Parker says.
The Causeway Upgrade Project is being constructed by the Causeway Alliance – made up of the NZTA, AECOM, Coffey, Fulton Hogan, Leighton Contractors and Sinclair Knight Merz – and it is scheduled to be completed in late 2016.
“The upgrade will improve travel times for commuters, freight and also bus users. We’re also aiming to keep the motorway open and flowing during peak times as we construct the project over the next three-and-a-half years.
“By raising the causeway 1.5 metres to prevent flooding onto the lanes we’ll create a safer and more reliable route for all road users,” says Mr Parker. “The result will be a more level surface, protected from the nearby marine reserve.”
Other key features include widening the motorway between the Whau River Bridge near Te Atatu and the Great North Road Interchange to four lanes citybound and four/five lanes westbound. Bus shoulder lanes will be extended and facilities improved for walkers and cyclists on the Northwestern shared path alongside the motorway.
The project team will be using special measures to reduce the impact on the Motu Manawa Pollen Island marine reserve beside the causeway. Data gathered from earlier trials last year will be used during construction to monitor the effects on birdlife and the environment.
Taupuni - the project’s temporary base has been set up in Te Atatu next to the pony club overlooking the harbour. Preparatory work has started and the work will stretch from the Whau River Bridge near Te Atatu to Waterview, including improvements to the Rosebank and Patiki interchanges.
Some lane layout changes are already in place on State Highway 16 including the priority lane at the Great North Road westbound on-ramp which has temporarily closed.
For more information about the project visit: www.nzta.govt.nz/sh16causeway(external link)