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As the latest phase of Dunedin’s Southern Motorway development moved ahead – the much-needed upgrade of the section running through Caversham – it looked likely that the new four-lane highway would relieve the notorious bottleneck only at the cost of becoming a permanent barrier between the suburbs on either side. That it did not is due in large part to the excellent relationship between the two key players in the project, Downer and Opus. It‘s also compelling evidence of the value of consultant and contractor working closely together at the early design stages of a project. Original plans for the Caversham Valley Safety Improvement works, drawn up by Opus, featured a road bridge crossing the motorway at Lookout Point. When the cost was deemed too high, it was scaled back to a pedestrian footbridge meaning there would no longer be a direct traffic route linking the two sides. Downer saw an alternative: moving the location of the proposed bridge crossing would require only a two-span design instead of three, and allow savings on retaining walls and land infill, making a road bridge over SH1 possible within the NZ Transport Agency’s budget. Mark Woodward, Downer Project Manager for the Caversham job, says that working closely with the designers at Opus helped his team. “Through early contractor involvement we were able to come up with a more cost-effective design. I think we saved around $6m compared to the original scheme. The NZ Transport Agency was pleased because they got what they wanted within their budget.” Chris Fox, Business Manager at Opus, continues, “The preferred design concepts for the structure were expensive so Downer came back with a different way to build it. It is a good example of a contractor chipping in nice and early and having an opportunity to suggest alternatives. 40 YEAR PARTNERSHIP PAYS DIVIDENDS FOR THE NZ TRANSPORT AGENCY BY STEVE HART “By working this way we get huge benefits. It’s hard to go back and do an alternative design during construction and that can become a very expensive exercise. “Above all, it was the relationship between Downer and Opus working with the NZ Transport Agency that made the ‘Caversham solution’ possible” says Fox. “It’s a long and extraordinarily close relationship that goes back to the origins of both companies.” “OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OPUS & THE NZ TRANSPORT AGENCY HAS ALWAYS BEEN A STRONG, COLLABORATIVE EFFORT” David Spriggs, Downer. IPWEA NZ Excellence Awards for Projects over $10 million, 2013 Awarded to NZ Transport Agency, Downer NZ, Opus and MWH for SH1 Caversham Highway Improvements Dunedin 28 / DOWNER / IN BLACK & WHITE


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