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Kia ora tātou
Wellington was certainly living up to its reputation as the windy city today - I hope you were all holding onto your hardhats as you made your way around the Memorial Park construction site today!
Interestingly, it is Armistice Day today. This day marks the end of the First World War. Flags at the National War Memorial were flying at half mast to show respect for those who died during the war.
First on the agenda this morning was the start of our field trip audioconferences. Big thanks to Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu and Rosebank School for your excellent questions – you certainly kept our expert Russell Scoones on his toes! If you were unable to listen to these audioconferences live you can go to Audioconference Recordings to listen at a later date. Even if you are not a speaking school on an audioconference you can still take part via the LEARNZ Backchannel.
You met up again with Russell after the audioconferences on the steps of the National War Memorial. Russell gave you an overview of progress on the Memorial Park project since the second field trip in May this year. This project sure is fast moving. It has to be so that it is finished by ANZAC Day 2015. You can watch the video where Russell points out new and finished features. You can also read the background page titled Project Update. The most obvious thing to see is that the tunnel is now open for traffic and work has started on the actual Memorial Park. The historic Home of Compassion Creche has been moved onto the Memorial Park site. For the latest happenings around the project site check out the Memorial Park Alliance update, 10 November 2014.
New road through the tunnel
You took a short stroll down to the eastern end of the tunnel and met with site engineer, Rob Dickson. Rob explained the process of changing the Buckle Street Diversion over to the new road leading through the tunnel. When this change was ready to be carried out, a diversion for traffic was put in place to allow the final work to take place. You can see a map of these diversions here http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/memorial-park/docs/tory-st-closure-unde.... It must have been quite a celebration when the tunnel was finally opened to traffic. Imagine what it was like to be the first person to drive through the tunnel!
A drive through the Aras Tunnel
Soon it was your turn to drive through the tunnel – or at least be a passenger! It was an exciting moment that didn’t last long, which makes sense because the tunnel is only 130 metres in length! But it was nonetheless interesting. If you have been following the previous field trips you will really appreciate the huge volume of work that has gone into constructing such a strong tunnel. Some cool features you saw on your way through included the lighting, which dims and brightens according to how light or dark it is outside the tunnel. Combined with the colour of the tunnel, this feature helps motorists enter and exit the tunnel without the need for too much eyesight adjustment. It is not like going from light to dark all of a sudden, but a smoother transition. You saw the poppies on the tunnel wall which represent the soldiers who died at Gallipoli. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow. To experience the drive through the tunnel, check out the video.
The biggest surprise for me today was just how much key roads are monitored. After lunch you drove out to Johnsonville to the Wellington Traffic Operations Centre. This Centre monitors and manages state highways and motorways throughout a large part of the North Island. Here you met Michelle, a control room operator. Michelle explained how the impressive wall of video screens helps the team manage what is happening on the state highway network and to make sure motorists have up-to-date travel information while they are driving. You may not have noticed the cameras inside the Arras Tunnel as you drove through it earlier. Like other similar cameras, they send live feeds to the Centre to help monitor traffic flows, manage roadway incidents and peak hour motorway flows as well as traffic information for radio and internet updates and motorway electronic messages. There is also some clever software being used with the Arras Tunnel monitoring system that is explained in Wayne’s World – you will have to look at the last video from today to understand what I mean by that!
For more information about traffic operations check out this PDF link How the NZTA Keeps You Moving (http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/how-the-nzta-keeps-you-moving/docs/how...)
So all in all it was a very interesting day. Tomorrow you will meet up with Matthew Tonks and find out more about the tunnel wall poppies and the tunnel name. You will also meet students from a visiting school and hear what they have to say about the Memorial Park Project. In the meantime, check out the latest Panoramas and find out what Egbert got up to.
See you tomorrow,
Why were flags at the National War Memorial flying at half mast today? Image: LEARNZ.
Russell Scoones answers another question from this morning's audioconferences. Image: LEARNZ.
The Home of Compassion Creche has been moved to its new location in Memorial Park. Why do you think it has scaffolding around it? Image: LEARNZ.
Work is well under way on the Memorial Park. Here you can see a monument being built for our ANZAC allies. Which country are those allies from? Image: LEARNZ.
A picture shows passing pedestrians what the finished park will look like. Image: LEARNZ.
Here you can see a car going around the corner of the new road that was put in place for the Arras Tunnel. Image: LEARNZ.
A view of the new Arras Tunnel from the eastern end. What do you think? Image: LEARNZ.
A control room operator's desk at the Transport Operations Centre. What are the screens showing on the far wall? Image: LEARNZ.
A close-up look at monitors showing live video from the Arras Tunnel. How might these help the control room operators? Image: LEARNZ.