Minister of Transport Simon Bridges has announced the reopening of the Kaikoura inland road (route 70) for unrestricted use from 8 am, Monday, 19 December.
The route will provide a two-way road link in and out of Kaikoura for the first time since the earthquakes of 14 November.
Crews have worked relentlessly for the past five weeks to make the severely damaged road safe for general use. This includes clearing the road of more than 50 slips, stabilising slopes, repairing damage and building an entirely new diversion road around the highly unstable Whalesback section of route 70.
The NZ Transport Agency will fully open the road from Monday morning 8 am barring any major aftershocks or extreme weather over the weekend.
“From the day of the earthquake our number one priority has been re-establishing access to Kaikoura and getting this inland route open next week is a major breakthrough,” Mr Bridges says.
“The Government remains committed to re-connecting all communities in the area and getting the region back on its feet as quickly as possible, and this will mark another important step in that process.”
While the inland road is planned to be fully open from Monday, there will be speed restrictions and traffic control in place as work is continuing on many sections of the road.
There are no final convoys of vehicles planned for this weekend and this will allow the crews to ensure the new deviation below the Whalesback is well prepared for Monday’s traffic.
People who have registered under the convoy system for trips in and out of Kaikoura next week will receive a text informing them of the change back to normal.
The Transport Agency thanks everyone who has used the registration system and driven to the conditions along the route, taking care around the many crews, as well as residents of both Kaikoura and Hurunui Districts who have managed their lives and work while the road repairs and convoys have continued.
Since the one-way convoy system was set up by the Transport Agency on November 30, more than 3000 vehicle movements have occurred on the inland road: about two-thirds southbound (out of Kaikoura) and one-third northbound (towards Kaikoura).
The full statement from the Minister’s office is here.(external link)
The NZ Transport Agency continues to repair and maintain the alternative state highway road for vehicles travelling through the Springs Junction and Lewis Pass route while the work to re-instate SH1 from the south side also progresses.