Carlton Gore Road after major reconstruction work in the 1920s (City Archives image 00117_0_27)
We take it for granted now but back in the 1920s when Carlton Gore Road was widened, its mix of retaining walls and sections of cantilevered road and footpath were considered an inspired solution to a challenging problem.
Residents had complained for years about the narrow, hazardous hill road and there was much debate about what to do. Alternatives considered to get people up the very steep hillside included installing a lift or inclined tramway.
The road improvements finally agreed on – and still in place today – significantly improved the gradient, safety and access to the hill-top suburb, opening the way for more houses and the creation of what is these days the No. 14 bus route.
Now, almost 90 years later, Wellington City Council is again making the route stronger and safer. Strengthening work has started on the retaining walls adjacent to Oriental Parade and will be carried out in sections over the next six months to bring them up to the latest earthquake standards.
A few street-side car parking spaces are out of action and later in the job there will be times when traffic management is in place and part of the hill road is down to one lane for short periods.
Councillor Andy Foster, who chairs the Council’s Transport and Urban Development Committee, says the $1.2 million project is part of the Council’s ongoing programme to help protect key routes and keep people safe.
“In recent years – among other things – we’ve done major work on the Ngaio Gorge Road and Churchill Drive, strengthened the entrances to Karori tunnel and almost finished similar work on the Hataitai bus tunnel.
“The Council has been working consistently over at least 20 years to make key parts of our transport network more resilient to earthquakes and slips – as well as progressively strengthening water pipes, reservoirs and buildings,” he says. “We all know Wellington is a seismically active area and the Council continues to lead the country in earthquake preparedness across all these areas.”
To strengthen Carlton Gore Road, 42 steel rods or rock anchors, up to 10 metres long, will be used to securely anchor the support walls to the hillside – a technique that has been used elsewhere including on the tunnels in Karori and Hataitai.
A new layer of concrete will then be sprayed over the top to make the walls stronger and reduce the risk of corrosion.
Other work includes the installation of a new concrete slab and reinforcing beam that will provide added strength to the underside of the cantilevered footpath, and repairs to the heritage-listed barrier fence. The concrete barrier with its distinctive Maltese Cross pattern is an original feature designed to keep pedestrians safe and act as a wind break.
The work is expected to be complete by October and is being done by Hawkins Infrastructure Ltd. Normal work hours are 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, with Saturday work, between 7am and 6pm, possible at times.