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In 1943 the New Zealand Government set up the Ministry of Works to design and build major infrastructure projects across New Zealand. The organisation had two sections: Works Civil Construction did the building, while Works Consultancy Services provided design services. Under privatisation in the 1990s, Downer bought the construction business, while the civil design operation was sold to a company that is known today as Opus International Consultants. While both companies are independent, their history and people have travelled much the same road – literally, in the case of Dunedin’s Southern Motorway. Based on the grand plan first proposed in the 1960s, the building and development of SH1 has been running since the 1970s and, as it nears its final stages of completion, it’s a story of the two firms. Fox, who started with Opus in the 1980s, says the relationship between Downer and Opus goes back more than 40 years. “That was the time when HISTORY OF SH1 IN DUNEDIN a motorway from Dunedin to Balclutha was mooted and work started. It has slowly come to fruition, having been worked on by the two ever since.” Today, there are people in both companies who have known each other since the Ministry of Works was a single government department, says Fox. “A lot of those relationships and friendships still exist between the two businesses. Our relationship is built on the knowledge of other people’s skills, mutual trust and respect. At Opus we feel good in handing over our designs to Downer because we know it has the people to follow them through and make them work.” Woodward describes the relationship with Opus as very ‘fluid’. “I call them up to discuss ideas almost every day. Thanks to the close relationship between our two firms, the contractual reporting structure never gets in the way of working together to find good solutions.” David Spriggs, General Manager of Major Projects at Downer, has been working on the Caversham improvement contract since the planning stage, when Opus and Downer were both brought on board. “The relationship between Opus and Downer was an obvious strength from the outset. Both companies have been involved in the development of SH1 since the 1960s as primary consultant and contractor on the NZ Transport Agency operations and maintenance contracts,” he says. Between 1989 and 1990 the Green Island motorway was extended northwards up Calton Hill. In 2003 the 4.5km Fairfield Bypass was opened and the Saddle Hill section was upgraded to a four-lane motorway, taking advantage of preparatory earthworks completed in the 1960s. Work started in 2010 to widen a two-lane section of highway between Dunedin’s CBD and Barnes Drive to four lanes. Measuring 1.6km, it was completed in October 2012 and asphalt was laid in January 2013. The Caversham Valley Safety Improvement project, a 1.3km stretch of highway, is due to be completed by August 2014. Spriggs puts the lasting relationship between Downer and Opus down to the culture within each firm and the people they employ. “Sure there are tensions now and again, but that is always going to be present no matter what – you just manage your way through it,” he says. “But ultimately our relationship with Opus, and indeed the NZ Transport Agency, has always been, and will continue to be, a strong collaborative effort. Opus and Downer have worked well during the past 40 years and I can’t envisage a time when that would change.” Part of SH1, the Dunedin Southern Motorway is the main arterial route south from the city. It is one of the world’s southernmost motorways The first section, completed in 1972, was 2.5km long The original two-lane road now forms the northern side of a four-lane motorway. A second section of the road, running for just 700m, was completed in 1978. Work done in 1980 established a two-lane carriageway, south from The Glen to Barnes Drive. DOWNER / IN BLACK & WHITE / 29


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