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The deluge system being tested inside the Waterview Tunnel – with the safety system testing complete, the road will open to traffic in early July

Editorial June / July 2017

‘That Waterview tunnel – when will it open?’ has been the question most Auckland motorists have wanted answered for the last few months. Now it’s all on, with the tunnel set to open to traffic in early July.

The approaches have been finished for months and the signage on both the adjoining Northwestern and Southwestern Motorways has been erected, but the opening of the long-awaited Waterview Connection has been delayed since the start of the year. 

Five years in the making and dubbed the ‘missing link’, the Waterview Connection largely completes the 48 km Western Ring Route which links the west of Auckland, Manukau, the city and the North Shore. It will provide an alternative north–south route that bypasses the congested Southern Motorway and Spaghetti Junction, and for the first time a direct motorway route from the city to the airport.

A fault in the software that controls part of the emergency response deluge system has been blamed – and having seen that in action as part of a pre-Christmas demonstration last year, I can see why the NZ Transport Agency would want that to be working without any possibility of failing.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced on 11 June that the twin tunnels would finally open in early July, with an official ceremonial opening on Sunday 18 June to be followed by a public open day (quickly extended to several open days after overwhelming public interest), during which the public can bike or walk what will be New Zealand’s longest roading tunnel. My husband was one of those who snapped up a free ticket to bike the tunnel.

Holding a public open day is the norm for these major roading projects, and tens of thousands are expected to turn out for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk or bike the tunnel before it is opened to traffic – much like they did to see Alice, the tunnel boring machine that was responsible for creating the twin tunnels. It’s a chance to marvel at the engineering and the scale of construction. 

I hope all those that attend the open days appreciate the complexity of the work, as this project will stand as testament to the professionalism of New Zealand’s construction industry.

To watch the latest drone footage of inside and around the tunnels, go to here

Until next time …
Lynne Richardson, editor


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