Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Auckland's City Rail Link - what's happening under our feet

Auckland Mayor Len Brown and transport Minister Simon Bridges were at the site of the City Rail Link in Auckland today. Photo / Nick Reed
Auckland Mayor Len Brown and transport Minister Simon Bridges were at the site of the City Rail Link in Auckland today. Photo / Nick Reed

There's a reason people tell other people - usually those who have a thing about heights - not to look down.

The media have been invited to take a first-look tour of part of the City Rail Link project in downtown Auckland. We're standing above a huge hole that is about 12m deep. When the work is done, it will be at a depth of 18m.

The hole is a launch shaft on the corner of Victoria and Albert streets; where tunnel boring machines are due to start pipe-jacking - or micro-tunnelling - through for a new storm water main being constructed on the other side of Albert St.

Several journalists and cameramen make up the team which is escorted on to a temporary path that winds around the shaft.

We are warned of "trip dangers'' in the form of straps and pieces of metal that sometimes cross over the path - which although secure, is way too wobbly for a person who has a thing about heights.

It is not exactly like standing on the glass panels of the Sky Tower, but look down long enough and a slightly queasy feeling starts to rumble in the pits of your stomach.

Soon enough, one of the journalists asks to go back - while the others walk further down the path. I stand on the corner pretending to be cool about the whole thing. A reporter on the other side is obviously fine, taking selfies.

The workers are on a smoko break, so there is not much action happening below, where a digger can be seen. There are sometimes loud cranking noises and above us is a 16-tonne crane with a large scoop mechanism attached.

"It's a big job,'' someone remarks.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges and Auckland mayor Len Brown arrive later, to sign what is dubbed to be an historic agreement between the Government and Auckland Council; for a 50-50 funding arrangement of the project.

It is the project Brown says has been his number one priority and was the culmination of six years of his city negotiating with the Government.

He is a happy man today and uses the word "fabulous'' more than once while speaking.

At seeing Bridges' signature, Brown laughs and says: "Yep, it's definitely in black and white.''

- NZ Herald

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