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Diary 4

Thursday, August 6, 2015
Field Trip Name: 
Waterview Connection 2
Field Trip Place: 
Where You Are: 
With Dennis at the Great North Road Interchange

Kia ora koutou,

It was stormy overnight in Auckland with strong winds and heavy rain disrupting construction on the Waterview Connection. Fortunately by morning it had cleared so we headed back to the site office for the final audioconference. 

Talking with schools

We spoke to Christian Renewal School and Sancta Maria Catholic School and learnt some interesting things such as the amount of concrete used to build the connection, which is a staggering 11,000 cubic metres. This amount of concrete would weigh the same amount as 5,000 elephants! Find out more by listening to a recording of this audioconference.

Meet Dennis

Following the audioconference you met James Chamberlin who wanted to introduce you to Dennis. Dennis is the large, yellow gantry crane that you can see from just about anywhere on site sitting high above the motorway. James took you up on to one of the ramps for a closer look. Dennis was named after a man who worked on the project who died of cancer. The yellow colour of Dennis recognises the partnership between the Well Connected Alliance and the Cancer Society in Auckland. 

A special machine

Dennis is different from most cranes used to build roads as he can not only lift things into place but he can also move along the ramp as a gantry. Dennis comes from Italy and he had to be shipped in pieces to Auckland. It would be impossible to construct the Great North Road Interchange without Dennis because there is not enough room on the ground below the interchange ramps to operate a normal crane. James explained that one of the biggest challenges of working on this project is its position high above a busy motorway. This is why Dennis works tirelessly through the night from 7pm to 4am lifting and placing heavy concrete beams to form the interchange bridges without disrupting traffic below. Another challenge of working on the bridges is that they are curved so Dennis can only move short distances at a time. Dennis is operated by a team of nine people and runs on electricity. You can find out more about Dennis in the videos.

Working at heights

You can imagine that working at a height of over 20 metres above the ground can be tricky and dangerous. You caught up with Dave Young the Health and Safety Manager who you first met during your induction on Monday. Dave has had a lot of experience with working at heights and explained some of the hazards. Barriers with netting prevent people from falling and also stop any other objects from falling off and harming people or property below. All equipment is tied down to stop it from being blown away. Everyone who works here is trained and has special equipment if they are working in areas where they could fall. Harnesses are worn so workers can always be clipped into anchor points. If someone does fall this equipment stops them from hitting the ground. People are trained to be able to rescue anyone who falls so they are not left hanging in their harness waiting for emergency services to arrive. Thankfully, no one has fallen while working at this site. Dave works hard to ensure everyone knows how to work safely and he is proud of the fact that no one here has been seriously hurt.

Construction continues

You have had a busy week here at Waterview and have met lots of people all working hard to finish this massive project. It has been impressive to see just how much the project has progressed since the first field trip and I can’t wait to see what the site looks like when we return next year. I’d like to thank all the people involved this week who shared their knowledge and enthusiasm for the project. I hope you have enjoyed the week as much as I have and can join us for the next field trip.

Ngā mihi nui and we look forward to you joining us next time.

Shelley the LEARNZ field trip teacher.


Lynne and Shelley talk to Christian Renewal School and Sancta Maria Catholic School during today's audioconference. Image: LEARNZ.

Come and meet Dennis, the huge, yellow gantry crane. What does Dennis do? Image: LEARNZ.

Dennis moves across these runway beams to place the concrete beams that support the bridge deck. Image: LEARNZ.

Dennis runs on electricity. Can you see the green generator on the top of the crane? Image: LEARNZ.

James is a Section Engineer. He showed Shelley how Dennis works high above the motorway. Image: LEARNZ.

You can see Dennis in position above the motorway. Dennis can lift and place beams. Image: LEARNZ.

Dave Young talks to Shelley about safety while working at heights. What do you think Dave is holding? Image: LEARNZ.

Shelley and Alvin beside the construction of the Great North Road Interchange. Image: LEARNZ.