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Video: Time-lapse showing construction of CPO tunnels
26 September 2019
Historic building shifts again for CRL
26 September 2019
Auckland’s historic Chief Post Office (CPO) is on the move again – work has started on the intricate job of transferring the heritage-listed building from temporary support on to new permanent foundations above the two City Rail Link tunnels built through its basement.
“It’s a very short journey – three millimetres at most – but it’s one of the most demanding engineering jobs undertaken in New Zealand and one rarely done overseas,” says City Rail Link Ltd’s Head of Delivery, Scott Elwarth.
Mr Elwarth says those three millimetres are the most the 107-year-old 14,000-tonne building is allowed to move as its weight settles on new foundations.
“Underpinning a building the size and weight of the CPO is an extremely challenging task – something only done when other methods are not available and, then, done very slowly.”
Buildings like the old Birdcage Tavern near Auckland’s Victoria Park road tunnel have been physically moved out of the way before, but Mr Elwarth says there was no room in central Auckland to do that for a building as large and as heavy as the CPO.
“The CPO is one of the most historically important buildings in the country – a building with a top heritage rating. All our planning, design and construction of the tunnels has been dominated by the need to protect the CPO from any damage. Add in the tight working conditions for our teams under all that masonry and concrete and the ‘live’ Britomart station on the other side of the wall, then you’re dealing with a challenging engineering operation,” Mr Elwarth says.
The weight transfer will be gradual, over several weeks. It includes removing some 350 tonnes of steel used for the underpinning structures that provided temporary support for the building during tunnel construction.
“It’s a delicate, careful and well-planned operation,” Mr Elwarth says. “People will not notice any change to the CPO”.
The CPO’s latest “journey” reverses one completed last year when its weight was transferred to temporary supports and 15 original concrete foundation columns demolished to clear the way for the tunnels.
The return “journey” will be completed at the end of October when the building will be supported securely on new foundations that include diaphragm (D) walls sunk 20 metres below ground, new foundation columns, cross beams and the tunnel boxes themselves.
After the weight transfer, work will start on restoring the CPO’s interior. Restoration work will be completed in late 2020.
Video: Albert Street trench
17 September 2019
Contractors Connectus has compiled this highlight reel of work on the Albert Street trench during 2018.
Big programme of CRL works starting in CBD
16 September 2019
City Rail Link (CRL) works for the Aotea underground station in central Auckland start tomorrow.
The first stage involves locating and shifting utilities such as power and water lines along Albert Street between Wyndham and Wellesley Streets, and on some surrounding streets.
“Tomorrow marks the start of the biggest contract of work for CRL,” says Dale Burtenshaw, Deputy Project Director for the Link Alliance, which is delivering the work for City Rail Link Ltd.
“Getting the utilities out of the way clears the ground for the substantial construction programme that will follow - completing the rail tunnels, building the Aotea and Karangahape underground stations and revamping the one at Mt Eden.”
Utilities work will be completed in three stages. The sequence is:
Albert Street, between Victoria and Wellesley Streets
Albert Street, between Wyndham and Victoria Streets,
Victoria Street and Kingston Street.
Work hours are between 7am and 7pm, Monday to Saturday.
The first programme of work involves locating exactly where utilities are under roads and footpaths. Relocation crews will follow, digging trenches 50 to 60 metres long as utilities are shifted. Each trench will take around four to six weeks and will involve digging on the road and footpath up to property boundaries. As utilities are moved, trenches will be back-filled and footpaths reinstated.
“Our key consideration is to keep the project area safe, easily accessible, well lit, and clean. For noisy works, we’ll use acoustic shielding to reduce their impact on people who live and work nearby,” Mr Burtenshaw says. “For this first stage of work, we’re keeping site fencing to a minimum, moving it along the street as the utilities relocation progress. Outside the immediate works area, we’ll use waist-high barriers for safety.”
The Link Alliance will manage impacts through the following actions:
One lane of traffic in each direction will be maintained along Albert Street
Onsite signage will keep people informed of upcoming changes to the road layout
The Link Alliance is working with Auckland Transport buses and people moving through work sites.
Safe property and pedestrian access will be maintained at all times with temporary diversions in place as work progresses
For their safety, people may need to be diverted at times around work sites. Wayfinding signage will help them find and access shops, businesses and homes
Noise and vibration
A micro-piling rig which uses drilling rather than ramming will be used for support piling, creating less noise and vibration
Noise mats around trenches will reduce noise from concrete saws, excavators and hydro-excavators
Mesh fencing will be used around work sites for lighter and clearer sight lines
Water-filled barriers and temporary fencing will maintain visibility for businesses and shops
Link Alliance-branded mesh scrim will be used as fencing at its compound site.
Construction of the Aotea station is planned to start in 2020. Aotea Station is expected to be New Zealand’s busiest rail station, used by some 54 thousand people daily when Auckland’s transformational City Rail Link opens in 2024.
Work starts to transfer CPO weight
12 September 2019
Work to transfer the weight of the former Chief Post Office building (Britomart) from its temporary underpinning frames onto the CRL tunnel boxes commenced today.
The load paths for the affected areas of the building now travel down through the reinstated columns, horizontally through the tunnel boxes and down through the diaphragm walls into the bedrock.
Spot the difference in the before and after photographs below.
Removal of the underpinning frames will soon be undertaken and all 350 tonnes of steel comprising the underpinning frames will be removed from site.
Reinstatement of the building’s B1 level and ground floor can then commence.
Big phase of CBD work to start for City Rail Link
05 August 2019
First details of the biggest phase of work in central Auckland for the City Rail Link project, including construction of the new Aotea underground station, have been released today by the Link Alliance.
The programme will extend the twin rail tunnel already built under Albert Street further south to Mayoral Drive, the site of the new Aotea Station.
“Work is quickly ramping up for a project that is going to give an international city like Auckland the modern rail network it needs, but there is no easy way to deliver a job like this in the middle of a busy CBD,” says City Rail Link Ltd’s Chief Executive Dr Sean Sweeney.
“I want to assure people that CRL Ltd and the Link Alliance will together do all we can to minimise disruption but a project as big and as complex as CRL presents many challenges that will, unavoidably, impact on life in the city centre for some time.”
Works for the Aotea Station and tunnel will be delivered in three phases: early works including the relocation of utilities, main works including construction of the station and finally landscaping and public realm improvements.
Locating and shifting utilities will start in September, as well as removing canopies from buildings to create space for piling works.
The main works to extend the tunnels to Mayoral Drive are expected to start in the first quarter of 2020. The cut and cover trench will include extensive station excavations along Albert Street.
To keep people and workers safe, vehicle access will be restricted along this section of Albert Street. Footpaths will remain open to access homes, shops and offices.
There will be times when either the Victoria Street intersection or the Wellesley Street intersection with Albert Street will need to be closed to traffic. However, they will never be closed at the same time to keep traffic moving, particularly buses.
The precise timing of traffic restrictions and closures and the main works are still being finalised. The Link Alliance is working with Auckland Transport to keep public transport and people moving through this part of the city.
A series of meetings with local people and community groups got underway today. They include lunchtime open days at Griffith Gardens on the corner of Wellesley Street and Mayoral Drive. The open days run 11.30am-1.30pm Monday-to-Thursday this week.
Dr Sweeney says there is a commitment to continue to share more exact timetables for the delivery of the various stages of work to keep people informed and to help them plan.
“I acknowledge there will be some who will be nervous about what lies ahead. It will take time to complete this stage of a City Rail Link that will change Auckland forever,” he says. “We appreciate people’s understanding as we work to complete it as quickly as possible.”
When the CRL project is delivered in 2024 it will double the capacity of the Auckland rail network, making it a better place to live, work and play.
New video of C1 construction
19 July 2019
C1 Concrete pour
18 July 2019
Our contractors DSBJV have poured concrete for the first of Contract 1’s tunnel roofs, meaning that the very first tunnel section beneath the Chief Post Office (CPO) building has been completed.
There are 16 tunnel sections within the Contract 1 works, ten within the CPO building and six within Lower Queen Street.
Yesterday’s pour was at the eastern end of the up-main tunnel (going to Mt Eden) which will connect to Britomart’s platform 5. 15 roof pours to go!
Construction under Albert Street’s northern end completed
04 July 2019
Construction of the City Rail Link (CRL) tunnel under the northern end of Albert Street has finished, marking a shift in focus towards enhancement work along the busy central Auckland thoroughfare.
A concrete pour of the final section of tunnel box roof was completed successfully today (Thursday, 4 July) below the Albert Street/Customs Street intersection.
“There is now a finish line in sight for our work at the north end of Albert Street,” says City Rail Link Ltd’s Chief Executive, Dr Sean Sweeney. “There is still work to do underground, but we can now start to turn our attention to people-friendly improvements along Albert Street itself.”
The project re-opened the Albert Street/Wyndham Street intersection last month, and work is planned to start mid-July on the first phase of enhancement work. Improvements include wider footpaths, more open places for people to share, and tree plantings. Work will start from Wyndham Street and head block by block north towards Customs Street.
“If work goes to plan we are hoping to return the first section of enhancements back to the community around Christmas,” Dr Sweeney says.
The northern section of Albert Street tunnel between Wyndham and Customs Streets is 348 metres long. The final concrete pour now connects it to the one under the Commercial Bay property development, linking Albert Street to the CRL lower Queen Street/Britomart station construction site.
Construction in Albert Street began in December 2015, with the diversion of a major stormwater line to create room for the tunnel. Over the past three-and-a-half years, over a million hours were worked on site, 2,500 tonnes of steel bar reinforcement tied together, and over 10,000 cubic metres of concrete poured. In that time, many kilometres of stormwater, electrical, gas, sewerage and internet lines were relocated or strengthened. Backfilling the trench around the tunnel will be completed in late winter.
Dr Sweeney acknowledges the work of the contractors, and the support from the local community.
“Construction like this in the middle of a city is never easy for anyone - the risks for workers that come from working in confined spaces, and the disruption for people living and working nearby – but we have taken a big step towards building a project that will change the way people can travel around our city,” he says.
The next programme of tunnel construction work on Albert Street is south of the Wyndham Street intersection. Planning by CRL Ltd and companies in the Link Alliance include strategies to manage the impact of those works when they start later this year.
Considerable progress in Lower Albert Street
27 June 2019
After being closed for three years, the Wyndham Street West intersection with Albert Street has re-opened successfully. People can travel east-west across Albert Street in either direction again – east along Wyndham Street down to Queen Street, or west past St Patrick’s Cathedral towards Hobson Street.
Safety restrictions continue for both road users and pedestrians at the intersection. Vehicle’s cannot make right turns into Albert Street from either direction on Wyndham Street, and the footpath on the northern or cathedral side of Wyndham Street West remains a construction zone.
Above ground, works on Albert St have commenced. These include installation of new utility services and tree pit construction in advance of the final finished footpaths and road carriageway.
To construct the tree pits and install the utility services, CRL contractors, Connectus, is also demolishing the steel reinforced concrete capping beam. This operation is currently underway on the western side of the road between Wyndham and Swanson Streets using a combination of wire-saw and concrete breakers.
Construction of tunnel floors and walls is mostly finished and only a single section of roof, at the Customs Street end of Albert Street, needs to be poured. Connectus expects tunnel box construction of the 350m Albert Street section of the twin underground tunnels to be completed in July.
Backfilling above the new tunnels to the road level of Albert Street is planned to finish by the end of winter.
As part of City Rail Link Ltd’s commitment to sustainability and the reuse of old materials, crushed concrete is being used for backfill. Around 45,000 cubic metres of crushed concrete is required, and almost half of that has been recycled from other project sites where concrete has been removed.
Canopy removals continue along Albert Street. While they have been removed outside SkyCity, the area there remains fenced off to store construction materials. Canopy demolition outside Auckland Council and Manhattan Apartments is also complete, and canopies are currently being removed outside the AA building.
Good progress in Lower Queen Street
27 June 2019
Excellent progress is being made on the tunnels under construction at the Lower Queen Street/Britomart site.
Down in the Lower Queen Street “pit”, the last of the concrete has been poured for the base slabs under the Chief Post Office heritage building, clearing the way for work to start on the tunnel walls.
Inside Britomart, preparatory work has started on the installation of an additional, fourth, escalator at the station to improve access for passengers. The heavy-duty metro-style escalator, a familiar sight at tube stations in London, is the first of its kind to be installed in New Zealand.
The new escalator has a number of benefits: it lasts longer, is more efficient, able to move 100 people a minute and is safer – there are four level treads instead of the traditional two or three, giving people more time to settle before they are carried up or down. The existing three escalators at Britomart will eventually be replaced with heavy duty ones.
Getting workers home safely at the end of their shifts is a priority for City Rail Link Ltd at all its sites. That commitment to safety is demonstrated at Lower Queen Street/Britomart. During construction half a million work hours have been completed with no lost time injuries. At the same time, there has been minimal movement of the CPO building “perched” above the tunnel work, and minimal effect, as well, on buildings adjacent to the work site.
19 June 2019
From solving a stormwater issue in Auckland to helping the water supply in Ecuador.
She has just finished replacing the stormwater main around Mt Eden’s Water and Nikau Streets as it was in the path of the future CRL tunnels.
She's shown heading to port for her sea voyage.
The micro tunnel boring machine is off to dig a 4km long tunnel in the second biggest city in Ecuador, Guayaquil. Guayaquil is on a river estuary and the tunnel will take water from the river to a new treatment station.
The machines are given female names as an acknowledgment of St Barbara, patron saint of miners and tunnellers, and Jeffie will be blessed with a new name in Ecuador.
Lower Queen Street time-lapse
18 June 2019
This is a time-lapse of the construction in May 2019 around the former Chief Post Office and the Fletchers- built Commercial Bay.
Lower Queen Street/ Britomart update
28 May 2019
CRL Contractor Downer Soletanche-Bachy Joint Venture continues their tunnel box construction under Queen St and Britomart, as well as works to Britomart station in preparation for the new CRL line.
Construction of tunnel floors in Lower Queen St is progressing well and connection to the tunnels beneath the Commercial Bay development is being made. Beneath the Chief Post Office building, construction of tunnel floors is complete for both tunnels and construction of the tunnel walls has commenced.
Demolition of the existing secant pile wall between the station and the building has been completed in the northern tunnel and is currently underway for the southern tunnel.
In the Britomart Station, demolition of the stairs on the northern side of the escalators is now underway behind hoardings. Once this is completed, a new escalator and replacement for the existing three escalators can commence. These works will not affect station passenger access.
Albert Street tunnel box update
25 May 2019
Tunnel box construction under Albert St is almost complete, with CRL contractor Connectus targeting having the last roof sections complete by the end of July this year.
Tunnel floor and tunnel walls are largely complete. Only four more sections of the roof need to be poured, and then we’ll be able to complete the backfilling under Customs St.
Latest time-lapse video of the CRL Lower Queen Street construction
22 May 2019
Drone fly-through around Lower Queen Street
21 May 2019
A drone fly-through look at the work building the tunnels at the former Chief Post Office (Britomart) and Lower Queen Street.
Update on C1 contract around Britomart
29 March 2019
The Downer Soletanche Bachy Joint Venture ( DSBJV) is now only a couple of months away from celebrating its third year constructing City Rail Link’s Contract 1 at Britomart.
The JV team has recently completed the bulk excavation of two trenches under the CPO Building and Lower Queen Street (LQS), and is now working on the construction of the new train tunnels.
Lower Queen Street
Bulk excavation of the 14m deep LQS trench was completed this month, enabling DSBJV to complete breakthrough works to expose the new Fletchers tunnels underneath Precinct’s Commercial Bay site.
Two large breakers were used to cut and breakout a number of secant piles. Works are also underway on the exposed Precinct tunnels to ensure they are ready to connect to the new C1 tunnels.
Along the northern secant pile wall of the LQS trench, works are underway to construct the concrete in-fills that will eventually form part of the permanent drainage path across LQS.
Construction of the concrete base slabs for the northern tunnel was being completed this week. Construction of the infill area between the tunnel walls and diaphragm walls is underway, and will be filled with sand/cement flow-able fill over the next few weeks.
Tunnel walls will be started in late April, ready for roof construction in mid to late May.
The southern tunnel is approximately two weeks behind the northern. This is due to the necessary removal of the old pedestrian underpass that previously ran from the train station through to where Commercial Bay is being built. Concrete pours are underway in the southern tunnel, with three out of five base slabs now complete.
Construction of the in-fill section between the tunnel and the diaphragm walls has just commenced.
Britomart Station lower levels
In the lower levels of Britomart train station, the northern curved blockwork walls are in the process of being removed. This will enable the existing train line to connect to the tunnel portal, which is located between the station and the northern tunnel under the CPO.
In May, the stairs on the northern side of the escalators, between the station’s lower and middle levels, will be demolished. This will be followed by works to modify the existing escalators. Access and egress for station passengers will be maintained at all times.
Latest section taking shape
08 January 2019
Construction has taken another significant step with work starting on construction of the first of the two rail tunnel boxes to be built under the heritage-listed Chief Post Office (CPO) building in lower Queen Street.
Seventy cubic metres of reinforced concrete is being poured for the first base slab, or some of the floor, of the northbound tunnel below the old building.
This pour was an important moment for City Rail Link Ltd (CRLL) and its Contract 1 (C1) contractor Downer Soletanche Bachy JV, says CRLL Chief Executive Dr Sean Sweeney.
“We’ve been working for this moment since July 2016 – for the past 30 months or so, this is what we have been gearing up for. That time has been a challenging one for our C1 contract in lower Queen Street and Britomart. Our teams have been working in some pretty demanding conditions, not only immediately adjacent to a live railway station but also excavating below sea level with the Waitemata Harbour only a few metres away. On top of that, some remarkable skill and innovation has been used to protect the CPO building so that we could get underneath it.”
Dr Sweeney says there is still a lot of work to be done in this area before both the northbound and southbound tunnel boxes are completed later this year.
“Once we’ve finished, it will be possible to walk the first section of the City Rail Link from Britomart station to beneath Albert Street as far as Wyndham Street. As for the CPO building, we are on track to reinstate and return it as part of the Britomart station in late 2020.”