Innovative engineering design and construction techniques will contribute to the fast delivery of a road revolution for Brisbane motorists when Airportlink is completed next year
Airportlink is part of a A$5.6 billion infrastructure investment to improve road connectivity in Brisbane, and will be the first major motorway connecting Brisbane city with the airport and northern suburbs, when it opens in mid-2012.
BrisConnections CEO, Dr Ray Wilson, suggests the successful execution of innovative “jacked box” and tunnelling operations would contribute to the project’s completion in about half the time of similar projects around the world.
“One of the most complex engineering aspects of the project was the jacking of two giant concrete boxes, the width of a rugby field, to form part of the Airportlink tunnel.
“The boxes were pushed under Queensland’s busiest railway line without any disruption to the 380 trains using the line daily during the 36-day box-jacking operation.
“Traditional methods of tunnelling would have required up to 30 weekend track closures, affecting freight, city network and Airtrain customers.”
This highly technical tunnelling method minimised disturbance to approximately 13,500 train trips on the popular North Coast Railway Line.
The purpose-built boxes, 65m-long, 12.5m-high, and with a combined span of approximately 38m, were pushed approximately 55m to position them beneath the railway embankment.
Thiess John Holland project director, Gordon Ralph, said a team of 225 people had worked around the clock to complete the jacking operation.
“To maintain stability of the rail embankment this work was done continuously for 864 hours straight,” Ralph says.
“Using a sophisticated laser level system, over 200 monitors were positioned along the railway line corridor to monitor any movement of the railway embankment and the tracks.
“Monitoring was undertaken by three automatic survey stations which relayed information via email or text message, 24 hours a day to key personnel.
“This operation is a complex engineering feat for the project and I am very proud of what the team has achieved,” he says.
Construction of the Airportlink network also required the largest number of roadheaders ever used on an Australian project, with a total of 17 roadheaders used to carve out the 15 kilometre network of tunnels below Brisbane’s northside.
The 135-tonne machines worked in conjunction with two massive A$45 million tunnel boring machines, nicknamed Sandy and Rocksy, the biggest ever used in Australia.
On the third anniversary since the first sod was turned at Kedron in November 2008, more than 4,500 people had worked in excess of 25 million hours on the project.
Wilson says Airportlink would revolutionize the way motorists travel in Brisbane.
“Airportlink is the missing link in Brisbane’s road network that could save people half an hour of travel every day.
“The network will service an area accommodating more than 60% of the Brisbane population and will not only provide quicker travel journeys, but will also take the pressure of surface roads.”
Motorists can get a feel for their new journey by taking a virtual drive on Airportlink before it opens in 2012.
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