Wednesday, June 29 2011
Southern hemisphere first for tram track installation
A new innovative engineering technique is being deployed to install tram tracks on Auckland’s waterfront this week.
It’s been over 50 years since trams last graced the streets of Auckland, but come August electric trams will run in a
clockwise direction in Wynyard Quarter along Jellicoe St, Halsey St, Gaunt St and Daldy St.
As part of the track construction, contractors have been faced with the challenge of installing tram tracks on a
revitalised Jellicoe Street, an area which will soon be home to ten new restaurants and bars and increased foot traffic.
The answer? A special grout that acts as a shock absorber and provides a significant reduction sound and vibration. The
technique involves using a specific type of polyurethane which gets poured into a trench where the tracks sit . This
technique has come with its own challenges, as the polyurethane grout has a consistency of water when it’s poured into
the track trenches and turns solid in less than 10 minutes.
This is the first time the installation method has been used in the southern hemisphere and Gary Harris from Jesmond
Construction, who’s managing the works, says it’s proving to be a challenging process.
“It’s not an easy process considering the tracks need to be set to exact specifications down to the millimetre. It’s
also southern hemisphere first which means we there’s not a wealth of information out there. However, we’ve mastered it
now and the tracks are looking great.”
Waterfront Auckland Chief Executive John Dalzell says the team is proud to bring trams back to Auckland and the most
modern engineering and technical advice has been used.
“The pleasing thing is that the design and intellectual property knowledge we’ve learnt will be able to used again in
any further developments. This is especially relevant given the possibility of the tramway being extended to Britomart
Transport Centre in the future that will be evaluated as part of the Waterfront Masterplan consultation,” he says.
In addition to the final stages of the tram track installation, contractors have started connecting the overhead wires
from which the electric trams will run. The works are happening at night (with the exception of Friday and Saturday) and
are expected to take up to four weeks to complete.
Waterfront Auckland is also preparing safety tips for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists unfamiliar with the presence
and operation of trams and tram tracks. For example when tram tracks are wet they can become very slippery so cyclists
should avoid cycling on the rails and, if they need to cross the track, they should do so with their wheel at a 90
degree angle to avoid getting stuck in the rails.
To find out more please visit www.waterfrontauckland.co.nz, and sign up to the newsletter for regular updates.