By NZ Transport Agency and HEB Construction project managers Raj Rajagopal and Gary Budden
Bridges, interchanges and the Karapiro viaduct are taking shape as work on the Tamahere-Cambridge section of the Waikato Expressway continues.
There are eight of these large structures – the viaduct, three interchanges, three over-bridges and one under-bridge, four constructed of steel and four of concrete.
They are vital for allowing traffic to readily access and leave the expressway, as well as ensuring traffic can cross it using local roads, which maintains community connections.
At the northern end of the section is the Pickering Road under-bridge. The ‘preload’ sand pile has been removed after its job of compacting the earth under it – by around 200mm – for bridge foundations was done.
Embankment earthworks and wall construction work is well under way and bridge construction will start in April. It’s expected to be open in late July.
Embankment earthworks are underway on Peake Road and Swayne Road over-bridges. The construction of the Peake Rd bridge is expected to be underway from May/June and Swayne Road from August.
Service relocation work at Thornton Road over-bridge is under way along with earth removal for the 6m below-ground cut for the expressway route. Bridge construction will start soon and should be finished in April 2015.
The northern interchange grows in height daily as, once again, preload for the embankments is built up. This material is being hauled from around Thornton Road where it is being removed to create the below-ground cutting and for the wetlands and stormwater pond. This preload will remain in place for up to three months, when bridge construction will start.
At Victoria Road interchange on SH1B, service re-locations and initial earthworks are happening, particularly in the northern area. The topsoil is being stripped and road widening will start, so expect things to get busier here. There will be some road switches as this work progresses.
Excavation works at the southern interchange will mean it will be dug down to final local road level. As expected there has been a lot of water here, which has required drainage to be installed. The water has been used by the dust suppressing water carts in this area. Bridge construction will start in April.
Piling work for the 40m high, 200m long viaduct over Karapiro Gully is nearing completion. The steel reinforcing for the columns for each of the three piers has been arriving on site, and these are being erected in stages and filled with concrete. These columns will slowly start to rise out of the ground.
The haul road has been very busy with earthworks across the entire 16km expressway length. Of the approximately 1 million cubic metres to be moved during the project, around 350,000 cubic metres has so far been moved.
Construction vehicles are large and cars, bikes and people are comparatively small yet some drivers are dicing with death by running red lights at the temporary traffic lights on the expressway haul road.
HEB Construction has sought to highlight the danger by graphically showing the scale of the size difference between the people and vehicles who are sharing the space (see photo). They have also called on the Police to increase patrols of the area.
To view construction progress, check out the live webcam and timelapse photography here, for more information go to the Visitor Information Centre on Victoria Road or follow the Waikato Expressway on Facebook.