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Working under the direction of Downer, MWH designed the road, Concrete Structures built the bridge, Eastbridge supplied the steel, and Holmes Consulting completed the design and engineering. Adding to the challenges were the risks of working above a live highway and alongside a railway line. Strict rules over the free flow of traffic on the old section of SH2 below the work site meant that drivers could be stopped for only around 10 minutes at a time – the highway is a key route for trucking goods to and from the port in Napier. “Traffic was using the highway below us, so we had to minimise disruption, we were always conscious that we were building a large structure above motorists,” says Robertson. Working in such a remote area, with little in the way of accommodation and facilities, presented its own problems for the project’s 50 members of staff. It also meant the delivery of materials had to be managed carefully. “The gorge is in the middle of nowhere so your planning and logistics need to bear that in mind,” says Robertson. “But we did make the decision not to move earth from one side of the gorge to the other.” While Robertson and his team could plan for most things, the weather in 2010 was uncommonly wet – which threw out their earthwork’s plan. “We were faced with exceptionally wet weather during our first summer on site” he says. “Local farmers were happy, but we expected it to be a very dry area – it normally is at that time of year. “Because of the wet weather we had to delay the earthworks we had planned, and do other work instead, but other than that it all went to plan.” Robertson says one of the most notable things about the project is that the NZ Transport Agency doesn’t normally hand out design and build contracts that are valued at less than $50m. “This was a little bit of an experiment for them,” he says. “It has worked out well and is a good example of what you can achieve when you bring the right partners together very early in the tendering process. We got a pretty good outcome thanks to a collaborative approach with our partners.” DOWNER / IN BLACK & WHITE / 45


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