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    Bespoke columns from CSP Pacific for 'smart' new lighting at Mt Victoria Tunnel

Bespoke columns from CSP Pacific for 'smart' new lighting at Mt Victoria Tunnel

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Principle: New Zealand Transport Agency
Customer:  Memorial Park Alliance
Contractor: AECOM
Location: Mt Victoria Tunnel, Wellington
Product: Bespoke fabricated steel tube columns
Date: June 2016

Mt Victoria Tunnel

The tunnel was first opened in 1931 and connects Hataitai and the eastern suburbs with the inner city suburbs of Wellington. It is 623 metres long and has two lanes, one in each direction. More than 45,000 cars per day travel through the tunnel and share the space with pedestrians and cyclists who use the tunnel on an elevated walkway along the northern wall.


Stage two of the Mt Victoria Tunnel upgrade is now complete with this vital 85-year-old transport link now sporting the latest in electronically controlled LED lighting systems. The previously dimly lit 623-metre tunnel is now brighter and safer for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists - and has been brought it into the 21st Century.

Two new photometers have been installed 55m from the edge of the tunnel at either end. They have been fitted to the top of two bespoke fabricated steel square columns from CSP Pacific. The two columns were specifically designed for the mounting of photometers which measure the intensity of the light at the tunnel’s portals and feed that information into the lighting control system. The lights are automatically designed to dim or brighten, making the transition between natural and artificial light easier on drivers.

The efficient, energy-saving LED lights installed throughout the tunnel are specifically designed to assist with visibility and improve safety. They are controlled by the tunnel’s newly installed computer system which constantly receives information from sensors mounted in the ceiling and will take into account the adaptation of the motorist’s eye from outside to inside.

International experience shows that a higher percentage of tunnel accidents occur in the transition areas where efficient lighting can be used to avoid the ‘black hole effect’ at the entrance and the ‘glaring effect’ at the exit. The aim of the new system is to ensure the difference between the light outside and the light inside, near the portals, is as small as possible, allowing the driver to see clearly. Once in the tunnel, luminance levels will decrease slowly to allow the driver’s eyes to adapt to lower lighting levels as they near the centre of the tunnel.

Virgil Karan, Principal Electrical Engineer from the Memorial Park Alliance (which consists of the New Zealand Transport Agency, Downer, Heb, T&T and AECOM), says the system is state of the art and a first for New Zealand. “The 410 LEDs and the system were installed over the last three months as we waited on the new photometers to arrive from Europe. They have been installed on two purpose built columns from CSP Pacific, who have been very helpful and knowledgeable in getting the design and columns to us.”

“When we were given the design of the columns we checked that the wind and design loading were sufficient for the location,” explains Bruce Stephens, Sales Engineer, Auckland / Northland for CSP Pacific.  “We then designed a specific foundation to suit the new columns.”

“The new system is fully operational and working well,” adds Virgil. “It has made an incredible difference to the lighting function of the tunnel. It is certainly a much safer tunnel now for motorists to drive through.”

Mt Victoria Tunnel stage two upgrade includes:

  • A new communications and lighting system - including emergency management
  • Pedestrian walkway strengthened to seismic standards
  • New wall panels along the carriageway
  • Ventilation improved by replacing or reconditioning the fans
  • Exterior portal slopes strengthened and concrete surfacing improved; and
  • Three control rooms refurbished with a fourth built to contain upgraded and new equipment.
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