Northland Tunnel strengthening

From January to the end of June 2017, we will be doing earthquake strengthening work on the Northland Tunnel entrances and adjacent retaining (wing) walls.

Northland tunnel.

Northland tunnel

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We are doing this work because structural assessments show that while the tunnel itself is likely to withstand a reasonably large earthquake, the banks above the tunnel could slip and damage the concrete portals and retaining walls – potentially blocking the road and tunnel. 

The strengthening work will reduce that risk and make it more likely the tunnel will be able to be used following an earthquake.

This work is part of the Council's ongoing programme to strengthen important transport routes and earthquake-prone structures, and not related to the November 2016 earthquake. Similar work has already been carried out on Karori Tunnel and the Hataitai bus tunnel. The NZ Transport Agency has also upgraded the Mount Victoria Tunnel.

What we are doing

  • building new retaining walls on the Northland side in front of the two existing retaining (or wing) walls that are on either side of the tunnel entrance. These reinforcing structures will be about half a metre thick and the same height as the existing walls but not as long.
  • constructing a new reinforced concrete beam behind the top of both tunnel entrances. You won't be able to see these horizontal beams but they will help secure the portal to the underlying rock.
  • enlarging the two existing vertical buttresses on the Karori side and securing them to the hill with long steel rods called rock anchors
  • clearing vegetation and building three new buttresses on the Karori side in front of the existing retaining wall to the right of the tunnel entrance
  • drilling and installing about 36 rock anchors
  • repairing cracks, plastering and repainting the tunnel entrances
  • reinstating and planting the banks above the tunnel

See the Northland Tunnel Seismic Assessment Report (35.6MB PDF)

What to expect

Traffic changes

The speed limit will be reduced to 30km/h in the vicinity of the tunnel for the duration of the project and temporary traffic lights will be installed. The tunnel will be down to one lane at times during the day. 

You’ll be able to drive or cycle through the tunnel in both directions but there will be short delays when it is down to one lane.

Two lanes will operate at peak times and other times.

Work hours will be 7am-6pm, Monday to Saturday. However, we're not planning to do work that would affect traffic flows at peak times, 7am-9am, and 4pm-6pm, Monday to Friday.

Pedestrian access

The footpath in the tunnel may be out of action at times, but an alternative safe route through the tunnel will be provided for pedestrians at all times. 

Other things

The contractor is Fulton Hogan, the same company that strengthened the Karori Tunnel.

No night work is planned at this stage.

A site office and an area to store gear and equipment needs to be established on the Northland side of the tunnel. This means some on-street car parking spaces will not be available until the work is finished.

Scaffolding will be going up on both portals, so work can happen on both sides of the tunnel as required.

Drilling the holes for the 36 rock anchors will be noisy at times, but will happen during the day.

Background

The tunnel was built in 1927 and is listed as a heritage structure in our District Plan.

The Council has appointed contractor Fulton Hogan, the same company that strengthened the Karori Tunnel, to do the work.

More information

Contact Team Leader Structures, Faiz Tawfeek

Phone 04 803 8050
Email faiz.tawfeek@wcc.govt.nz