Twice the length of Auckland’s Harbour Bridge, the 2.4km Waterview Tunnel is New Zealand’s longest road tunnel and a game changer for Auckland motorists.
On an average day, 60,000 to 70,000 vehicles drive through the tunnel. To keep these journeys smooth and safe requires high performance on an ordinary day and a rapid response to emergencies, like a crash, spill or fire. This means NZTA needs constant and immediate two-way communication between the tunnel’s technology and their headquarters at Smales Farm.
That’s where we came in. We were asked to design and set up the electronic systems to connect with NZTA’s existing Auckland network. This meant delivering and configuring thousands of switches and multiple assets so information can be quickly relayed between the tunnel and NZTA HQ.
Let’s look at the scale of this beast. The tunnel has 4,000 light switches, 62 ventilation fans, multiple variable speed screens, incident detection and public address systems, safety cameras, and a fire safety system.
To pull off our mammoth task, we worked closely with Spanish Systems Integration Company (SICE), who created the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) that drives everything.
One of the challenges was to connect to the existing networks without disrupting what was already in place.
It took a year of rigorous testing to ensure the technology and equipment were robust and high-performing. Every single switch had to be checked.
The tunnel’s equipment connects to the network through switches located in the communication rooms. The two communication rooms – one northside, the other southside – are fed by an alternating fibre from one of two rings running down each tunnel, making a total of four fibre rings.
Meeting the challenges
The list of things that could break in the twin tunnel is massive and that’s why the level of failover is significant. Put simply, it’s not just the electronics that need immediate back-up, but the tunnel’s entire power supply, including the power feeding the two communication rooms.
But the kit is more than up for it. Like the rest of NZTA’s Auckland network, Waterview Tunnel uses Allied Telesis technology. At its core, we installed the latest 10Gb switching chassis technology, with EPSR (Ethernet Protected Switched Ring) failover technology. This delivers a resilient service across the network by allowing rapid failover of each of the four fibre rings. Within tens of milliseconds of a link failure being detected, backup kicks in.
These days, many associate the success of the Waterview Tunnel with Alice - the famous tunnel boring machine and the largest machine ever used in New Zealand. And it’s true this project couldn’t have happened without her. But it’s the tunnel’s electronic systems that gives NZTA what they need to rapidly respond to incidents and provide millions of road users with a resilient and safe road network. And that’s something we’re really proud of.