Newmarket’s Blue Crane Makes Light Work -Latest Photos


Newmarket’s amazing Big Blue 140 metre long crane, towering 20 metres along the existing Newmarket viaduct, is making light work of a complex project.

In its first week of operation, it has installed 19 segments at the northern end of the new bridge. There’s a lot more work to do, though. It will be lifting a further 150 individual segments in coming months. This to complete the new southbound structure.

The unconventional crane is enabling the motorway to be kept open in both directions while the work is done to construction a new four-lane southbound motorway bridge in time for the RWC. The new southbound bridge should be operational by as early as October this year, however only three lanes will initially be opened to traffic. This will allow for dismantling work to begin on the old southbound bridge immediately adjacent.

The fourth lane across the new bridge will open in February 2011, to tie in with the motorway expansion from Market Road that will see southbound capacity enhanced as far as Greenlane

Once the old southbound half of the existing Newmarket Viaduct has been removed, the new northbound bridge will then be built in its place and twinned with the new southbound bridge.

Following the final stage of the replacement process, the removal of the old northbound lanes, this is intended to create a wider, stronger, safer and more sustainable new Newmarket Viaduct, standing 13 metres to the northeast of the current structure.

I must admit I have a child-like fascination about the Big Blue Crane, but I promise I am never distracted if I drive past. Honest, Officer.

Big Blue Crane - all your questions answered about it here

Photos: NZTA & Jon C




  1. ingolfson says:

    Where did you get the cool first picture from, Jon?

  2. Willuknight says:

    why are they removing the old bridge? whats wrong with leaving it there and having one new bridge?

  3. ingolfson says:

    In short, the old viaduct is nearing its servicable lifespan, and upgrading it would be almost as costly but provide less benefits than a new one. The old viaduct also doesn’t have enough earthquake safety margins and they are taking the opportunity to widen it with another lane while they redo it.

    No provision for a cycle path along it though… another long-term opportunity lost.

  4. Matt L says:

    The new bridge is meant to last 100 years, whats the bet in 30 we will hear its not strong enough and is replaced again. Also I believe they are only adding 1 new lane northbound? they should be doing this southbound as well, even if it is closed off and not used.

  5. ingolfson says:

    “The new bridge is meant to last 100 years, whats the bet in 30 we will hear its not strong enough and is replaced again.”

    So what do you propose? Never improve the standards? Under that logic, we would (for example) still be driving around cars without crumple zones, killing ourselves and others on the road even faster).

    The old bridge surely fulfilled the criteria of its time, so now it doesn’t anymore. Also, they tried some (at the time) new construction methods, and the maintenance ended up being higher than expected. You can’t win them all unless you are willing to go only with what has been done hundreds of years before.

    As for extra lanes - they ARE adding a fourth southbound lane, not a northbound one. Ever looked at the alignment further north? It is caught between a steep hillside and lots of other properties such as St Peters College. No way of widening. However, southbound, there was enough space to add a fourth lane from the Viaduct to Greenlane, so it made SOME sense to add it. Barring induced demand.

    A northbound lane would just be parking space (though maybe we could use it for cycling ;-)

    But fear not, Matt - I actually believe the design was futureproffed to be able to take another lane. So if Jocye ever has some billion he doesn’t want to spend on PT, here is his next project: Tunnel underneath Auckland Grammar School!

  6. Matt L says:

    Ingolfson - My problem is not that it won’t last for 100 years it is just that they won’t admit it. If they came out and said we need to replace the bridge and will need to do it again in 30-40 years people would not be happy. By saying it is designed to last 100 years the public just accept it.

    I knew there was one extra lane I just couldn’t remember which side it was on. There is already a fourth lane northbound that starts as soon as you get off the viaduct and goes through to Grafton Gully so it wouldn’t need any widening.

  7. max says:

    “will need to do it again in 30-40 years”

    You are stating that it will have to be rebuilt in 30-40 years as if that was a certainty, or you had some “real oil”. I am quite confident that the engineers do believe this one WILL last 100 years, so there is no hypocrisy in them saying so.

    “here is already a fourth lane northbound that starts as soon as you get off the viaduct”

    Exactly, and if you ever joined the motorway westbound from the Gillies interchange, you know that this fourth lane is chocker-full with cars coming ON.

    Therefore, all you would achieve by making it a continuous four-lane over the Viaduct all the way to Grafton Gully (instead of a lane addition as it is now) would be that the Gillies on-ramp cars would queue back to Onehunga (they already go all the way back into Epsom) and that we would have a welter of crashes on the on-ramp, as people tried to push their way in without having an acceleration lane.

    I am doing a number of traffic planning projects in that area, so I have both surveys and personal experience to back it up. I have even looked into widening, but it’s just not possible with less than a Road of National Significance-type of committment to carving away under that hill to the south of the motorway. And that is the last thing we need to waste our money on right now. All we are doing is pushing our induced-traffic pinch point back and forth through the length of the CBD for enourmous amounts of money. At some point, there’s a limit to what a city can or should take anyway.

  8. Scott says:

    What cool photo’s. Top Job. Keep Auckland
    moving and employed. Go the blue Truss.

    Top photo taken out of a JLG 1350 cherry picker. From 135 feet about 41 mtr above ground.Yeah



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