South Island highways update – 2:30pm Wednesday 16 November

  • 16 Nov 2016


NZ Transport Agency contractors are continuing to assess the safety of key South Island state highway routes, clear slips and safely re-open roads as soon as conditions allow.

Transport Agency Highways Manager Neil Walker says work today is focussed on restoring access to communities which have been cut off by damage from Monday’s quake and establishing safe and reliable alternative routes.

“We’ve been working since first thing this morning with Kaikoura District Council contractors on the inland road (route 70) between Culverden and Kaikoura. Crews have been working from both ends since Monday to clear slips and assess the road and structures for damage.”

Mr Walker says limited access has now been established allowing military-grade 4WD vehicles to deliver water and essential supplies through to Kaikoura.

“This is emergency access for military vehicles and other essential services under escort only. The road is still high risk and is not yet open to private vehicles. We are doing everything possible to have the road open for the public by the weekend, but we’re asking people not to attempt to use the route for access in or out of Kaikoura until we’ve finished the urgent work needed to open it safely.”

The alternative state highway route from Picton to Christchurch, via Murchison and the Lewis Pass has been open since late Monday afternoon. This will likely be the main state highway route from Christchurch to Picton for several months, given the amount of work which will be required to clear the large slips which have closed SH1.

Controlled access for local residents and essential services has also been restored on SH1 south from Seddon to Okiwi Bay, and north from Cheviot to Goose Bay. It’s important to note that these sections of SH1 are only accessible to local residents or essential services – all other traffic must use the alternate route via the Lewis Pass.

With the closure of SH1, Mr Walker says the Lewis Pass route will be carrying higher volumes of traffic, and people are urged to allow extra time for their journeys. People should allow an additional 90 minutes to two hours for the journey between Christchurch and Picton on the Lewis Pass route - average journey times between Christchurch and Picton are currently expected to take seven and a half hours. Fuel, food and toilet stops are available along the route at Culverden, Springs Junction, Murchison and St Arnaud.

State Highway 7A, giving access to Hanmer Springs from State Highway 7, re-opened at 7am today after being closed overnight due to the risk of further rockfalls.

With continuing aftershocks contributing to the on-going risk of further slips and rockfalls in several parts of the South Island, people are urged to drive with extra caution and comply with all temporary speed restrictions.

The Transport Agency thanks all road users for being patient as many people’s travel plans are disrupted and many people are again managing their homes, work and lives amidst the aftershocks.

People can call 0800 44 44 49 for updates and the Transport Agency’s website and social media accounts will be also updated as more information is available.

Canterbury / Marlborough highway status - 5pm, 15 November 2016 [PDF, 1.8 MB] (map detailing affected routes)

· http://www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic

South Island updates

· www.facebook.com/nztasouthisland

· twitter.com/NZTATotS (Top of the South)

· Canterbury West Coast Twitter updates

Wellington updates

· www.facebook.com/nztawgtn/

· http://ow.ly/osEi306aMzO (Twitter updates)