Alice the giant tunnel boring machine says goodbye

Concrete falls as Alice, the giant boring machine breaks through in Owairaka after completing the second of the Waterview Motorway Tunnels. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Concrete falls as Alice, the giant boring machine breaks through in Owairaka after completing the second of the Waterview Motorway Tunnels. Photo / Jason Oxenham

A video documenting the final leg of Alice the giant tunnel boring machine's New Zealand journey has been released online.

After two years of rumbling under Auckland to create part of the Waterview Connection, the 87m piece of German machinery was dismantled, packed up and sent back home last month.

With the help of dozens of support vehicles and their crews, the 270 tonne main drive, Alice's "heart", was moved overnight at the start of February from the project's Owairaka site along Sandringham Road, through Mt Eden and Grafton to the Ports of Auckland.

NZ Transport Agency said because of the main drive's huge weight, it had to be shifted on the back of a 48 axle, double-width trailer and pulled by three tractor units with another one behind to give it an extra push.

"The journey took 3 hours to complete and it's a credit to all those involved in the months of planning and organisation that it went so smoothly given the size of the load," said tunnel construction manager, Chris Ashton.

Once at the ports, the main drive and the other largest part of the boring machine were packed up and shipped back to the manufacturer, Herrenknecht's main factory in Germany.

Starting in November 2013, Alice bored 4.8km from Waterview to Alan Wood Reserve, Owairaka, to create the country's longest road tunnels, each twice the length of the Auckland Harbour Bridge. The three-lane traffic tunnels each way to connect the Southwestern and Northwestern motorways along Auckland's 48km Western Ring Route between Manukau and Albany.

Well-Connected Alliance produced a video about Alice's heart making its final journey to the ports.

- NZ Herald

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