Top, Puhoi to Warkworth northern connection to SH1. Bottom, Puhoi to Warkworth southern connection at Johnstones Hill Tunnels.
Good weather has helped with the earthworks.
Good progress on the construction of the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway (Ara Tūhono) means it will likely make its completion date of May 2022, a Warkworth Area Liaison Group meeting heard earlier this month.
Robert Jones, project director for motorway constructor Fletcher Acciona, told the meeting that Fletcher was confident to meet that date and noted that if it failed to do was liable to pay around $230,000 a day in damages.
“There is pressure on us to meet that deadline,” he said.
Mr Jones said Fletcher Acciona was including works to facilitate the collection of a motorway toll, just south of Moir Hill Bridge, but stressed that the decision on whether to collect a toll rested with the NZ Transport Agency and not Fletcher Acciona.
He said the motorway also included ample ducting for the laying of pipes and cables to cope with expected increased demand for services as the region grew.
Mr Jones said motorway progress to date reflected the fact that the project had enjoyed good weather for its past seasons of earthworks.
However, he said a forced shutdown during the Covid-19 lockdown last year before some slopes could be stabilised caused “quite a number of slips”.
This had required moving an additional 800,000 cubic metres of dirt that had not been anticipated, but this work had successfully been completed and things were “back on track”.
Mr Jones said with the bulk of the earthworks complete, the focus will now shift to laying down the asphalt for the road surface, which is expected to start soon.
To do this Fletcher Acciona has imported a paving machine that can pave the entire width of the motorway in a single pass, rather than requiring the more usual two or more passes.
“We will be laying on average 1600 tonnes of asphalt a day,” he said.
Mr Jones went on to summarise various parts of the works currently underway.
At the northern end of the motorway, enabling works have begun to widen SH1, just north of the Warkworth Showgrounds. This will accommodate increased traffic flows generated by the motorway and the intersection with Matakana link road, also currently under construction.
Works are also underway further north at the Kaipara Flats/Goatley Road intersection of SH1. This will facilitate the creation of a slip lane that will allow traffic heading south on SH1 destined for Warkworth or Matakana to bypass the roundabout that will connect the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway to SH1.
Other slip lanes being worked on to bypass the roundabout include Puhoi-to-Warkworth northbound to SH1 northbound, and SH1 westbound to Puhoi-to-Warkworth southbound.
Fletcher Acciona is also working on road layout changes north of the Johnstones Hill tunnels to connect the southern end of the new motorway to the tunnels. From mid-February, northbound SH1 traffic leaving the tunnels will temporarily switch to one of the southbound lanes to allow works to proceed.
Once works are complete, the Johnstones tunnels will feature two lanes in both directions.
Mr Jones said much of the road layout changes were being done at night to try and to minimise the effects on traffic flows.