Dame Whina is now well underway on its journey underground, boring the twin tunnels for the NZD$4.4 billion transportation project.
City Rail Link chief executive Dr Sean Sweeney said the team was pleased to be operating at full capacity again, and the achievement represented a significant milestone for the city.
“It’s giving everyone a lift – there’ a lot of dedicated work behind this – and we’re telling Auckland we’re not going to be stopped by all the challenges the pandemic keeps throwing our way.”
The TBM is currently below Symonds Street in Auckland’s uptown district, operated by CRL’s main contractor, the Link Alliance.
Link Alliance project director Francois Dudouit said the team was proud to have achieved their target so soon after the embargo on construction was lifted.
“Getting there so soon after the level four lockdown ended is a great achievement and demonstrates the persistence and hard work of our teams above and below ground to get the tunnels built,” Dudouit said.
Dame Whina Cooper began tunnelling CRL’s southbound tunnel in late May, and while works have been impacted by COVID-19, the TMB continued to operate at low capacity during the five-week lockdown to reduce the risk of becoming stuck.
The CRL team and its contractors are observing enhanced COVID-19 protocols, including wearing masks and sanitising work stations.
Dame Whina Cooper will soon pass under the Auckland motorway network’s Spaghetti Junction in its path towards Karangahape Station, where it is anticipated to arrive by the end of the year.
The final leg of its journey to Aotea Station will be completed early in the new year.
“Since March 2020, and not including Auckland’s latest ongoing level 3 alert, CRL has endured 205 days of lockdowns or restricted working conditions under levels 4, 3, 2.5 and 2. By anyone’s reckoning, 205 days is still an awful lot of disruption,” Sweeney said.
“But very importantly, no-one at CRL has lost sight of how important the project is for Auckland and the big changes it will bring to the people who live and work here.”
‘Danme Whina Cooper’ is named in honour of the Māori rights champion and is valued at $13 million, built specifically for Auckland’s soil conditions.
For more information and to track Dame Whina Cooper’s progress, visit the City Rail Link website.