We’ve been keeping an eye on what is happening at Waterview and the construction of Alice the massive TBM that will be used to drill the tunnels. Tunnelling itself is due to start next month and so before that begins, the NZTA are going to be holding an open day so the public can have a look at the project and the machine.

The NZ Transport Agency is delighted to announce a free open day in the central west Auckland suburb of Owairaka on Sunday October 13 to provide members of the public a unique opportunity to view Alice – the giant tunnelling machine that has been custom-built for the $1.4b Waterview Connection project.

With a 14.5m diameter cutting face, and weighing in at over 3600 tonnes, Alice is the world’s 10th largest Tunnel Boring Machine, and will be the largest ever to be used in the Southern Hemisphere. ‘She’ is currently being reassembled in the tunnels’ southern approach trench, in position to start boring the first of the project’s twin tunnels. The Sunday October 13 event will allow close-up viewing of Alice from within the trench, less than three weeks before tunneling is scheduled to commence.

The Transport Agency’s State Highway’s Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker, says the event will give Aucklanders, and New Zealanders from further afield, the chance to see one of the world’s true mega-machines before it is put to work.

“The $55m boring machine will not only excavate the ground, it will build the tunnels as it goes, leaving a circular concrete lining in its wake and ultimately taking 2.5km of motorway underground.”

The Waterview Connection is by far the biggest project the Transport Agency has ever undertaken, and Mr Parker says the open day will also allow visitors to see first-hand other elements of its unprecedented scope and scale.

“The walkway will pass alongside new bridges, sports fields, wetlands and stream improvements that have already been completed, before descending beneath a 15m shelf of volcanic rock into the excavated trench. Visitors will also be able to walk alongside the 700m long conveyor that will be used to extract the 800,000 cubic metres of spoil from the twin tunnels.”

To safely accommodate up to 20,000 visitors over the course of the day, entrance to the walkway will be by pre-booked ticket only. Tickets will provide 30-minute windows for entry to the walkway, between 10am and 3.30pm, and will be available on a first-come-first-served basis from this Friday at 9am via the project’s website and AliceTBM Facebook page: www.nzta.govt.nz/waterviewconnection and www.facebook.com/AliceTBM

Alice under construction
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  1. If I had read this article closer, I wouldn’t have gone along to the open day today…… The guard on the gate was very friendly though!

  2. Does anyone think its crazy using such a massive machine for such a short tunnel (by international standards). Pity they can’t get more use out of the thing.

  3. Well, they don’t have to just through it away after they use it. And it’s not like this is the only part of the country that needs a hole bored through it…. If you can’t find another hole for it to dig in Auckland, then we will quite happily have it down here in Wellington! We’ve got a few tunnels that need digging…

    1. It’s specifically designed for the rock conditions in Waterview but even if that wasn’t an issue it can’t be used elsewhere it has already been sold back to the manufacturer who will tear it down and reuse some of the parts in other TBMs

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