Porter Press Extra: Takatimu North Link

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer

A wide variety of Porter Hire equipment is being used at the Takitimu North Link project in the Bay of Plenty

A Porter Hire Terex dump truck powers down the hill towards the Wairoa River plain at the Takitimu North Link project

Don’t let Michael Bracegirdle’s job title of Stage One manager fool you into thinking the area of the Takitimu North Link transport corridor project he’s looking after is a compact one. Quite the contrary, actually.

This project is immense. I’m standing with him alongside what will eventually be the Wairoa Road overbridge. The vista to the east is of a wide plain extending back across the Wairoa River towards the Takitimu Drive Toll Road interchange and bustling urban Tauranga.

Porter Hire’s array of machinery available for short and long term loan is diverse and readily available in almost every corner of the country

Turn around 180° and just over the horizon is Te Puna, where a full diamond interchange will eventually transform Minden Road. In short, everything we can see is Stage One of the Takitimu North Link project. Everything.

This is, not to put too fine a point on it, a colossal project. And one consisting of many component parts for Michael. "In all it’s the Bay of Plenty’s biggest roading project to date," he says. "Our focus here for the project is a four-lane, 6.8km long highway.

The works include the construction of eight bridges, three million cubic metres of earthworks, 29 culverts, eight stream diversions and seven wetland areas. It’s certainly no greenfields project and presents plenty of tactical challenges."

The scale of the works – delivered by Waka Kotahi as part of the Government’s New Zealand Upgrade Programme, and a Fulton Hogan and HEB Joint Venture – is impressive in how it stretches for the horizon, but also at points in how it reaches for the sky.

"Where we’re standing here on the Wairoa Road overbridge section, the roadway will pass 17m below us. This is a big cut and is 20m deep at its far end. The terrain is rolling but deceptively steep in places.

Combined with the Wairoa River valley and its soft soils alongside these steeper grades, there are plenty of tricky aspects to the works, with plenty of earth to move in the process."

 Eventually this land will form part of a 6.8km stretch of brand new state highway, replacing the old SH2

And this is just Stage One. When completed, the Takitimu North Link will provide an alternative route to SH2, moving trucks away from local roads that are now struggling with the immense pressure of increased commuter and freight traffic through one of the most rapidly growing regions in the country.

Western Bay of Plenty communities are projected to grow by 16,000 people in the next 20 years and, down on the plain below us, traffic crossing the Wairoa Bridge is expected to increase from 20,000 to more than 30,000 daily by 2031. This is future proofing on a large scale.

Naturally, there is plenty of machinery on-site here. But, as Michael explains, rather than deploy entire fleets of its own construction equipment to large works such as this, the Fulton Hogan/HEB JV instead hires in the gear that covers all its bases during the initial earth working phases.

"Fulton Hogan and HEB invests in strategic plant where needed, but for a project such as this where we need to shift dirt in large volumes and shape the landscape in preparation for the next construction phase, we rely on hired equipment from trusted suppliers such as Porter Hire.

The enormous Takitimu North Link project features Porter Hire gear wearing almost every nameplate Porter Group represents in New Zealand, including BOMAG

"We hire a lot of equipment through Porter Hire. They essentially have everything we need in whatever quantity we need it in. Whether it be the Terex dump trucks, BOMAG rollers, Hyundai excavators, or water carts, we can rely on Porter Hire to provide what’s required."

Currently truck movements are kept low to avoid congestion at the top of the access hill. Once trucks can be rerouted under the existing public road, more Porter Hire Terex TA300s will join the fray

Wheel loaders, graders and dozers are also present on site here alongside the Wairoa River. Porter Hire offers a complete range of heavy equipment hire solutions, from smaller equipment right through to some of the biggest specialised machinery available on the market.

A comprehensive array of machinery is available, with Porter Hire’s dedicated team able to tailor hire packages to suit any requirement. "It doesn’t matter whether a customer is after a single attachment, or a group of heavy-duty machines, we can make sure they have what they need out in the field as soon as possible," says Porter Hire North Island hire manager, Haydyn Smith.

"Thanks to Porter Hire’s extensive national network, we have fastidiously maintained hire gear available in almost every corner of the country, meaning we can deploy it quickly to wherever it is needed, ensuring project continuity for customers."

And thanks to that national footprint, in-field maintenance and servicing are also covered for Porter Hire customers wherever the equipment is located. By next summer, Michael believes there will be a huge increase in articulated dump trucks on site: all sourced through Porter Hire.

However, with a road crossing to take into account, at present the number of dump trucks carting dirt from the top of the hill down to the river plain has to be restricted.

"We can’t risk congestion at the top of the hill, so we are purposefully restricting truck movements at the moment until we can go under the road so as not to impact on traffic flow," he says.

"By next season though we will see a larger number of dump trucks here, which will be good because we have a lot of soil to cart, and we are carting it a long way.

"Regardless of how the project is shaped and resourced, depending upon what phase of the build we are in, having a proven entity such as Porter Hire there to make sure we have all our equipment needs covered is integral to staying on track."

"If Porter Hire is all over this aspect of the Takitimu North Link project, then we can focus on all the many other elements and ensure it is completed safely and on time."

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