Waterview Tunnel

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The Waterview Tunnel is a twin road tunnel in west Auckland, New Zealand. At 2,400 metres (7,900 ft) long, it is New Zealand's longest road tunnel. [1] The tunnel, with three lanes of road vehicle traffic in each direction, connects State Highway 20 in the south at Mount Roskill to State Highway 16 in the west at Point Chevalier as part of the Waterview Connection. Its opening completed the Western Ring Route motorway system.

Auckland Metropolitan area in North Island, New Zealand

Auckland is a city in the North Island of New Zealand. Auckland is the largest urban area in the country, with an urban population of around 1,628,900. It is located in the Auckland Region—the area governed by Auckland Council—which includes outlying rural areas and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, resulting in a total population of 1,695,900. A diverse and multicultural city, Auckland is home to the largest Polynesian population in the world. The Māori-language name for Auckland is Tāmaki or Tāmaki-makau-rau, meaning "Tāmaki with a hundred lovers", in reference to the desirability of its fertile land at the hub of waterways in all directions.

New Zealand State Highway 20 road in New Zealand

State Highway 20, also known as the Southwestern Motorway, is a New Zealand state highway linking State Highway 1 at Manukau City Centre with State Highway 16 in Point Chevalier, via Mangere and Onehunga. Along with its spurs, State Highway 20A and 20B, the state highway serves Auckland Airport, the country's largest, therefore making State Highway 20 a key arterial route connecting the airport to the wider Auckland region and most of the upper North Island. The route also forms the southern part of the Western Ring Route, a 48 kilometres (30 mi) motorway route bypassing central Auckland. It is the only New Zealand State Highway that is entirely motorway.

Mount Roskill mountain in New Zealand

Mount Roskill is both a volcanic peak and the suburban area in the city of Auckland, New Zealand.


Waterview Tunnel

Alice the Tunnel Boring Machine 1950 (10281168256).jpg

Alice the Tunnel Boring Machine during the construction of the Waterview Tunnel
Official name Waterview Tunnel
Location Auckland, New Zealand
Status Opened 2 July 2017
RouteState Highway 20 NZ.svg SH 20 and State Highway 16 NZ.svg SH 16
Start Point Chevalier
End Mount Roskill
Constructed 2011–2017
Operator NZ Transport Agency
Traffic Motor vehicles
Character Motorway
Toll Not tolled
Length 7,874 feet (2,400.0 m)
No. of lanes 6 (3 per tunnel)
Operating speed 80 km/h (50 mph)

Planning history

The project had an extensive planning history, with the earliest consultation in 2000, [2] though the proposal for a route roughly in the area dates from much earlier.[ citation needed ]


The Waterview Tunnel completed the Western Ring Route which provides a second route through Auckland. For those travelling from North to South (or vice versa) the route enables users to bypass the city centre and reduces reliance on SH1 and the Auckland Harbour Bridge. It also provides a direct motorway link from the central city through to Auckland Airport, a route which has in the past relied on the use of local roads. [3]

The Western Ring Route is a motorway system being constructed in Auckland, New Zealand. It currently runs along the entire Southwestern Motorway, most of the Northwestern Motorway, the entire Upper Harbour Motorway, and the entire Upper Harbour Highway. When the Upper Harbour Highway is upgraded to motorway status, the route will surpass the Southern Motorway to become the longest motorway in New Zealand at 48 kilometres in length. It runs through Manukau, Waitakere, and the North Shore, bypassing the Auckland city centre and thus providing a second motorway route through the Auckland isthmus.

New Zealand State Highway 1 road in New Zealand

State Highway 1 is the longest and most significant road in the New Zealand road network, running the length of both main islands. It appears on road maps as SH 1 and on road signs as a white number 1 on a red shield, but it has the official designations SH 1N in the North Island, SH 1S in the South Island.

Auckland Harbour Bridge road bridge in Auckland, New Zealand

The Auckland Harbour Bridge is an eight-lane box truss motorway bridge over the Waitematā Harbour in Auckland, New Zealand. It joins St Marys Bay on the Auckland city side with Northcote on the North Shore side. It is part of State Highway 1 and the Auckland Northern Motorway. The bridge is operated by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA). It is the second-longest road bridge in New Zealand, and the longest in the North Island.

Project alliance

The Waterview Tunnel and greater Waterview Connection project was delivered by the Well-Connected Alliance. This was a partnership between the NZ Transport Agency, Fletcher Construction, McConnell Dowell, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Beca Infrastructure, Tonkin+Taylor, and Obayashi Corporation. Wilson Tunnelling and SICE were sub-alliance partners.

Waterview Connection road in New Zealand

The Waterview Connection is a motorway section through west/central Auckland, New Zealand. It connects State Highway 20 in the south at Mt Roskill to State Highway 16 in the west at Point Chevalier, and is a part of the Western Ring Route.

The NZ Transport Agency is a New Zealand Crown entity tasked with promoting safe and functional transport by land, including the responsibility for driver and vehicle licensing, investigating rail accidents and administering the New Zealand state highway network. It was created on 1 August 2008 by the Land Transport Management Amendment Act 2008, merging Transit New Zealand with Land Transport New Zealand. Its legal name, as established by the Act, is New Zealand Transport Agency, but it operates as NZ Transport Agency. Its Māori name, Waka Kotahi, means "one vessel" and is intended to convey the concept of "travelling together as one".

The Fletcher Construction Company Limited is a New Zealand construction company and a subsidiary of Fletcher Building. It and Higgins Contractors Ltd make up the Construction division of Fletcher Building. Fletcher Construction is widely recognised in New Zealand, and has delivered various iconic projects including constructing the Auckland Sky Tower.


Concrete lining

A purpose-built factory was constructed in East Tamaki, Auckland to produce the 2414 concrete rings needed to line the tunnels. Each ring is two metres wide (length) and 14 metres in diameter. They consist of 10 precast segments, each of which weighs 10.5 tonnes. [4] Five rejected segments were used to create a Soldiers Memorial on the Village Green at Te Kauwhata. [5]

East Tamaki is a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand. It is a largely industrial area adjacent to a rapidly growing population. Prior to the 1960s it was largely a dairy farming area. A landmark is Smales Mountain which in 2010 has the remains of an old Pa, a stone field garden, an early church, and farm homestead. A newer landmark is the Fo Guang Shan Temple which was the largest Buddhist temple in New Zealand when it opened in 2007.

Te Kauwhata is a small town in the north of the Waikato region of New Zealand, situated close to the western shore of Lake Waikare, some 40 km north of Hamilton. The township population in 2006 was 1294 with perhaps up to 13,000 in surrounding areas. The Maori name, "Te Kauwhata" means: te': the; kau: empty; whata: storehouse - The Empty Storehouse.

Tunnel boring machine

Alice the TBM near the start of her journey in October 2013. Te Hauranga Hau, an artwork designed for the project, can be seen on the left. Alice the Tunnel Boring Machine 1955 (10281162606) (3).jpg
Alice the TBM near the start of her journey in October 2013. Te Hauranga Hau, an artwork designed for the project, can be seen on the left.

An Earth Pressure Balance tunnel boring machine (TBM) was built specifically for the Waterview Tunnel at the Herrenknecht factory, Guangzhou, China. Made up of 90 pieces, the TBM was 14 metres in diameter, 97 metres long, and had a top speed of 80mm per minute. [6] The TBM arrived in Auckland on 22 July 2013, [7] a launch ceremony was held on 31 October 2013, and excavation work began on 8 November 2013. [8]

Earth pressure balance, or EPB, is a mechanised tunneling method in which the excavated material is used to support the tunnel face whilst it is being plasticised using foams/slurry & other additives to make it transportable and impermeable. The spoil is admitted into the tunnel boring machine (TBM) via a screw conveyor (cochlea) arrangement which allows the pressure at the face of the TBM to remain balanced without the use of slurry.

Tunnel boring machine machine used to excavate circular tunnels through a variety of soil and rock strata

A tunnel boring machine (TBM), also known as a "mole", is a machine used to excavate tunnels with a circular cross section through a variety of soil and rock strata. They may also be used for microtunneling. They can bore through anything from hard rock to sand. Tunnel diameters can range from one metre (3.3 ft) to 17.6 metres (58 ft) to date. Tunnels of less than a metre or so in diameter are typically done using trenchless construction methods or horizontal directional drilling rather than TBMs.

Herrenknecht company

Herrenknecht AG is a German manufacturer of tunnel boring machines, headquartered in Allmannsweier, Schwanau, Baden-Württemberg. It is the worldwide market leader for heavy tunnel boring machines. Roughly two-thirds of the 5,000 employees work at the company headquarters in the installation of hydraulic and electronic components is carried out as well as final inspection. Approximately 300 work at three different locations across China. The company contains 82 subsidiaries around the world and has worked on 2,600 projects.

Nicknamed "Alice" following a public vote, [9] the TBM was the 11th largest machine of this type in the world. [10] Alice bored the twin tunnels in two passes to a depth of up to 45 metres so as to pass below hard rock, the water table, and sea level.[ citation needed ] The southbound tunnel, excavated from south to north, was holed through on 29 September 2014. [11] Alice completed the return journey on 19 October 2015 [12] and was dismantled in early 2016 before being transported in sections to the Port of Auckland for shipment back to the German manufacturer. [13]

Cross-passage excavation

Work on the excavation of cross-passages between the two tunnels began in early 2015.[ citation needed ] Sixteen cross-passages were built to enable evacuation of people from one tunnel to the other in the event of an emergency and to house tunnel operation equipment. Each cross-passage is around 11 metres long. The excavation was completed in December 2015. [14]

Safety features

The tunnels include a number of features to ensure safe use by vehicles. Safety features include electronic message boards, speed cameras, public address systems, radio sound systems, CCTV cameras, and ventilation and fire sprinkler systems. Traffic is monitored by dedicated Tunnel Operators and computerised systems. Emergency exits and telephones are installed every 150 metres along the length of each tunnel. Overheight detection systems prevent oversize vehicles entering, and on-ramp signals regulate traffic flow. [15]

Closures and detour route

The tunnels will be partially or fully closed for scheduled maintenance at times, usually between the hours of 10pm and 5am. A detour route through Great North Road, Blockhouse Bay Road, Tiverton Road, New Windsor Road, and Maioro Street [16] will be utilised at these times. The detour will also be permanently in place for prohibited vehicles. [17]

Prohibited vehicles

Dangerous Goods Vehicles (i.e. those requiring a placard), vehicles over 4.3m high, and vehicles carrying uncovered loads are prohibited from using the tunnels. They are required to take the detour route. [18]

Completion date

In 2016, the completion date for Waterview Tunnel was estimated as mid-April 2017. [19] A delay was announced in March 2017, with the date pushed out by "two-three months" [20] after faults were found in the deluge system and software. [21] On 11 June 2017 it was announced that the tunnel would open in early July 2017. [22] The tunnels opened on 2 July 2017 with the first cars passing through at 12:47 am escorted by three police vehicles. [23]

Te Haerenga Hou (artwork)

Auckland artist Graham Tipene created an artwork named Te Haerenga Hou (meaning New Journey) for the entranceway to the tunnel. [24]

The artwork depicts the journey from the Manukau Harbour, past the volcanoes of Te Ara Pūeru /Māngere, Te Hōpua (Gloucester Park), Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill) and Puketāpapa (Mt Roskill), to the feet of Ōwairaka (Mt Albert), following the path of the tunnels. [25] The work also incorporates the story of lovers Tamaireia and Hinemairangi, whose elopement is said to have led to the creation of the region's volcanoes. [26]

See also

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