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Big summer planned for Manawatu project

Big summer planned for Manawatu project

NZ Truck & Driver News

 December 2021   

Job vacancies are being filled, dirt is being shifted and trees planted as a big summertime push begins at the Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway project.

Construction of the important new section of State Highway 3 – linking Woodville and Ashhurst – began in January 2021 and more than 650,000 cubic metres of earth were moved in the first phase of construction during the year.

“Te Ahu a Turanga Alliance team is on track with recruitment and, by December 2021, we expect to have a full earthworks contingent working on the project,” says Grant Kauri, the project’s owner interface manager. 

“The drier months are typically when we have the opportunity to move the most earth, and we are anticipating a busy and productive summer season. However, being in the wider Manawatū region, those longer stretches of dry weather may not arrive until after the New Year.”

Te Ahu a Turanga ranks among the largest earthworks projects in the country and has around 120 pieces of large machinery onsite. 

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Job vacancies are being filled, dirt is being shifted and trees planted as a big summertime push begins at the Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway project.

Construction of the important new section of State Highway 3 – linking Woodville and Ashhurst – began in January 2021 and more than 650,000 cubic metres of earth were moved in the first phase of construction during the year.

“Te Ahu a Turanga Alliance team is on track with recruitment and, by December 2021, we expect to have a full earthworks contingent working on the project,” says Grant Kauri, the project’s owner interface manager. 

“The drier months are typically when we have the opportunity to move the most earth, and we are anticipating a busy and productive summer season. However, being in the wider Manawatū region, those longer stretches of dry weather may not arrive until after the New Year.”

Te Ahu a Turanga ranks among the largest earthworks projects in the country and has around 120 pieces of large machinery onsite. 

Goodman Contractors recently moved a Wabco 353 elevating scraper – one of the biggest scrapers in the world – to work on the project.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says that a relatively mild winter and a seamless COVID-19 shutdown and restart, has allowed the project to move into its second summer earthworks season in a strong position.

During Level 4 the site had to close, except for essential maintenance. With stringent safety plans in place, Te Ahu a Turanga was one of the first major projects to resume construction in Level 3 and the site has been fully operational in Level 2.

Lonnie Dalzell, Waka Kotahi regional manager infrastructure delivery, says a big focus this year has been creating access for construction. A lot of this work is nearing completion and, with access largely in place across the site, the coming earthworks season is about moving a lot of dirt.

“Over 10% of the project’s total earthworks has been completed and we are working towards having half the project’s total earthworks moved by the end of the current season, in May 2022,” Dalzell says.

Dalzell says good progress on landscaping has also been made.

“The landscaping team has been out in all weather and has met their goal of getting close to 250,000 native plants in the ground at two farm sites before the warmer weather arrives. Around 630,000 plants are growing at a number of nurseries for planting next year.” 

The new section of State Highway 3 between Woodville and Ashhurst will replace the Manawatu Gorge section that was permanently closed by a land slip in April 2017.

The new highway is located between the former Gorge highway and the Saddle Rd, which has served as a link across the Ruahine Ranges since the slip. 

“We understand the new highway is highly anticipated by the heavy haulage sector, with trucks currently needing to utilise the Saddle Road or the Pahiatua Track,” says Kauri.

“The estimated drive time for the new highway is 13 minutes for regular vehicles and 18 minutes for freight. With two lanes in either direction, including a crawler lane, it will make the trip significantly safer and more efficient than both the previous and existing routes.”

Completion of the new highway is scheduled for late 2024.  


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