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Wellesley Street Bridge new link for city

Wellesley Street Bridge new link for city

The Wellesley Street Bridge, one of the key structural elements of the Grafton Gully Project and one of the most significant new roading structures in Auckland, was officially opened today.

In celebrating the opening Transit New Zealand’s chief executive Dr Robin Dunlop said the bridge would greatly improve traffic flow in central Auckland by separating local traffic from motorway traffic. The new bridge improves access to Grafton Road and Auckland Hospital as well as to the Northwestern and Southern motorways.

Dr Dunlop said the Grafton Gully Project had seen significant engineering achievements.

“For example, building this bridge involved putting in massive precast beams for the deck. These beams, 24 metres long and weighing 50 tonnes each, needed a truck on one end and a tractor unit at the other to get them into place.

“An impressive engineering feat that also benefits the environment is the construction of Auckland’s largest tank for improving the quality of stormwater discharged to the Waitemata Harbour.

“Another significant engineering achievement has been replacing the old railway embankment with a 70 metre long, 1900 tonne new railway bridge. This was slowly moved 15 metres sideways into place during Anniversary Weekend,” he said.

“Roads are generally seen as having a negative impact on their immediate surroundings. Here in Grafton Gully it is just the opposite. Through the incorporation of strong environmental features, urban design and smart engineering I believe we are creating an asset that will bring long-term benefits to the social and economic history of Auckland.

“What’s different about this project is the management group that has got this job done. Transit and three organisations make up the Freeflow Alliance: Beca Carter Hollings & Ferner, Fletcher Construction and Higgins Contractors. There is a true partnering spirit,” he said. Dr Dunlop said the project was coming in under budget.

He said the Grafton Gully Project is critical to the Central Motorway Junction project.

Dr Dunlop thanked the Auckland Regional Council saying one of the reasons this project is ahead of time is that the council allowed earthworks to continue through the winter.

He went on to acknowledge the challenge of traffic management during the project: “This is a massive operation. It’s in a densely populated area with busy commercial and industrial activities, the university, the Auckland hospital and the ASB Bank Tennis Centre. Despite this, there has been minimal disruption to traffic. Through it all, the highway stayed open. That’s an achievement over and above the construction.

“We have had a dynamic partnership with Auckland City Council. One of the achievements resulting from this is the way we were able to integrate work on the city’s new stormwater pipeline.

Dr Dunlop said Transit had worked with an archaeologist and with iwi on preserving finds from the Phoenix Foundry, and from the Waiwai Bottlers, and as a result, the New Zealand Archaeological Association had honoured the Grafton Gully project with an award for ‘outstanding efforts in public archaeology’. Dr Dunlop acknowledged the work done by iwi, the people of Ngati Poa, Ngati Whatua and Ngai Tai.

“My thanks to everyone involved: the engineers, designers and planners, the council officials, the traffic managers, all the Transit staff involved, and especially the people of Auckland who travel this route or who live nearby. We’re pleased to be showing you a taste of the good things to come,” he said.

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