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Council projects win construction awards

A Dunedin City Council traffic signals maintenance project scored a significant win at the recent CCNZ / Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards. Won by contractor Downer NZ, the Category 5 Award celebrates excellence in the maintenance and management of assets including routine maintenance.

The clients are Dunedin City Council and the NZTA. The contract, handled by Downer NZ, is for the essential maintenance and upgrade of the greater Dunedin area traffic signals network – including proactive and reactive maintenance, and installation.
Since 2013, Downer has provided traffic signals operations and maintenance services for Dunedin City, Mosgiel, Oamaru and NZTA’s State Highway network in the Otago area. The contract serves an urban population of over 150,000.
The network contains 89 signalised intersections, with over 700 structures and more than 1600 lamps; 24/7 operation is a must-have criterion for operations with an attendance time of 30 minutes required.
The team is made up of two electricians, two apprentice electricians, an IT technician and contract manager, all working part-time on the network, attending to other duties when not engaged fully on this contract.
The team inherited this long-running contract four years ago. At the time, many of the assets had been in place for over 20 years and there was limited recorded information about the infrastructure.
Traffic signals are a critical road safety feature of any city. The Downer team undertook a review of 89 intersections and established an electronic asset database that contains all known information about each intersection. Previously, a manual system had been operated and the data available was limited.
Maintenance records had not been consistently updated, now necessitating a step change in system knowledge to improve performance.
Downer instigated a bespoke Sharepoint extranet site to build up a comprehensive asset management system to record all information about each location.
This is regularly updated whenever work takes place at the location. This allows the client and the team to quickly understand how the signals operate at the specific intersection and, importantly, what other services are present.
The Downer team also represents both Dunedin City Council and NZTA when working on the city’s traffic signal infrastructure, and recognises this high degree of autonomous trust and responds to this by keeping its clients informed of activities performed and planned.
In a second project, a difficult realignment of wastewater pipes and strong liaison with private property owners helped Construction Contracts (CCL) win the Category 1A Award at the CCNZ / Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards.
Category 1A recognises projects with a value of less than $5 million and is for companies with turnover of less than $10 million.
For the Jackson Street Wastewater Renewals project, CCL developed and maintained a strong relationship with the property owners whose acceptance of the onsite work was absolutely necessary. The company collaborated with Wellington Water and MWH to obtain approvals.
An old poorly-aligned earthenware sewer pipe along part of Wellington’s Jackson Street, which dated back to 1910, was showing signs of severe tree root infestation and collapse. The pipe also passed beneath a private house.
CCL was contracted to replace and realign the sewer pipe in what was one of the most difficult and complex projects undertaken of this nature.
CCL rose to the challenge and showed innovation in proposing a new alignment design which significantly minimised the environmental impacts to private property compared to a design previously submitted.
The project also required diplomacy in liaising with the owners of affected residences and utmost care in implementation so as to minimise disturbances to land and gardens.
A process of regular communication and consultation was established with CCL taking the lead in instigating and maintaining a good working relationship with homeowners and other stakeholders. Issues were carefully considered and, by working with residents, solutions found.
Ninety-five metres of HDPE pipe was laid by open trenching along the new alignment, 45 metres was installed by directional drilling, while a further 75 metres was laid by hand in areas where machinery could not be used due to access limitations, necessitating the use of modified tools and barrows.
This required a significant amount of stamina and physical hard labour, digging through weathered and solid greywacke on steep terrain in wet and extremely cold conditions.
To minimise disruption to residents, sewage and wastewater services were maintained throughout the project via overland pipes and pumps connected to the sewer downstream of the work area.
The project was completed within budget and timeframe with the sewer installed to contract specifications and all affected residential properties reinstated to best trade practice standard.
The complexity of this project had earlier been recognised with CCL receiving the 2017 CCNZ local branch Wellington / Wairarapa Construction Award, Category A. The project also gained the ACC Workplace Safety Award at the 2016 Wellington Gold Awards.

This article was first published in the October 2017 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.

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