*STOP PRESS, 3.30 pm update : Highway estimated to reopen at 4.30 pm today.
Kaikoura’s State Highway 1 south of the town, Peketa to Goose Bay, closed around 9 am today after a hiab (truck with a lift/crane attached to the deck) hit the left corner of the Parititahi Tunnel portal, damaging the entrance.
“The tunnel portal had a small crack in the same area but this latest hit has caused more damage which requires stabilising,” says Tim Crow, NZ Transport Agency Earthquake Recovery Manager.
Assessment and scaling underway at the Parititahi Tunnel this morning:
The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR)’s tunnel crew is hand scaling the tunnel portal to break off loose and broken bits of concrete.
“They will continue to remove loose material and stabilise the tunnel portal. Later today they will use reinforced shotcrete to help hold the entrance together. Mechanical bolts will be inserted to further secure the tunnel portal,” says Mr Crow.
The status of the tunnel will be assessed by 3 pm* and whether or not the highway south of Kaikoura will be able to open at that point will be known then also.
Check the Traffic and Travel page(external link) on the NZ Transport Agency website for updates then: http://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/roadclosures/201639(external link)
All truck drivers are encouraged to take the Lewis Pass route today between Picton and Christchurch.
The highway north of Kaikoura remains open however drivers heading further south will then need to take Route 70 inland via Waiau to Waipara to get to Christchurch.
Both the Parititahi and Rairamai road tunnels on SH1 south of Kaikoura will have their height raised from 4.3 metres to 4.6 metres in coming weeks to provide a more comfortable clearance for trucks which have sometimes clipped the tunnels’ edges in the past.
The key traffic and travel source which provides up-to-date information on weather and road conditions is www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic(external link)