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Don’t miss the opportunity to walk through a section of the 3.45 km long City Rail Link tunnels in November

Editorial – October / November’19

Taking a walk along, over, through and under our major infrastructure projects – long before they open for the purpose they were built for – has become wildly popular.

Major construction projects like the Waterview tunnels, Waikato Expressway, Transmission Gully and the Newmarket Viaduct have all opened their gates in recent times, with the project partners and the NZ Transport Agency swamped by requests, so much so that they are now ticketed events.

It carries on a long tradition of inviting the public to see the work at first-hand. My in-laws can remember walking across the Auckland Harbour Bridge in the late 1950s just before it opened, and they also walked across the original Newmarket Viaduct, this time with my husband and his brother, both just toddlers at the time. We took them to walk across the new Newmarket Viaduct for the open day in August 2010.

As a member of the media that has a specific focus on construction and infrastructure, I’m often fortunate to be invited to visit our new bridges, tunnels, prisons, highways, swimming pools, schools (the list goes on) for an inside view and to talk to the construction team and project managers. It’s a fascinating insight and one of my very favourite aspects of my job.

Sometimes these site visits can be a little underwhelming – walking along a just-completed highway in a howling gale, or visiting Waterview for a demonstration of the blasting process to clear the volcanic lava flows in the tunnel approach. I was expecting an enormous explosion and showers of rock flying into the air, but there was just a tiny ‘wumpf’ and a ripple in the bedrock and that was it. Sorry Waterview team. However, seeing Alice the tunnel boring machine up close and in action made up for it!

I was one of the first people to go inside the Johnstone Hill tunnels while they were being created for the Northern Gateway project. Those tunnels were bored using a 50 tonne drilling machine, driven by an operator and guided by machine control technology. I was allowed to grind out about 30 cm of rock – a fact I remind my family of every time we drive through the tunnels and which they are thoroughly sick of hearing.

Now, it’s the turn of Auckland’s City Rail Link, with Sunday 17 November announced as a one-off open day for a public walkthrough of a section of the 3.45 km long tunnels. Having just done this myself for this edition’s cover story, I can really recommend it. Details will be announced on the CRL Facebook page, so ‘like’ the page for updates (facebook.com/cityraillink/) and details for how to obtain tickets. There will be access for wheelchairs, but not for bikes, pushchairs or scooters, so you won’t be able to Lime scooter your way through.

There’s just 10,000 tickets available and I would imagine every one of them will be snapped up within minutes. Don’t miss it.

Until next time …
Lynne Richardson, editor



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