The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is aiming to re-open the Lyttelton tunnel to all traffic within 48 hours.
“We’re working towards having both lanes of the tunnel open for general use by Saturday afternoon,” said Pete Connors, NZTA’s Networks Operations Manager for Canterbury.
Mr Connors said the structure of the severely damaged tunnel canopy was removed earlier today, and the agency has been allowing fuel tankers through the tunnel under escort.
The tunnel was re-opened for use by emergency vehicles at 6:30pm on Tuesday, allowing emergency services priority access to and from Lyttelton. While alternate access to Lyttelton is available for private vehicles via the Dyers Rd pass, the NZTA is urging people to avoid all non-essential travel in order to keep the roads clear for emergency services.
Mr Connors said while the agency understood that residents were anxious to have access through the tunnel, the agency was still working to address the risk from ongoing rockfalls on the tunnel approaches.
The Lyttelton tunnel was closed immediately following Tuesday’s earthquake, as rockfalls caused significant damage to the tunnel canopy and to the tunnel control building. The tunnel control building has been deemed unsafe to occupy. The tunnel’s electrical systems and exhaust fans acre currently operating on back-up generators.
Mr Connors said the agency was also working hard to re-open a section of SH74 (ANZAC Drive from Travis Rd to Metro Pl), but surface flooding and liquefaction were slowing progress.
All state highways and state highway bridge structures in and around the city have been inspected, and while some have sustained minor damage all of the bridge structures are safe, and all other state highways in the region are open. Mr Connors urged motorists to abide by temporary speed restrictions in place on many parts of the network.
Information on earthquake damage to state highways in Canterbury will be regularly updated on www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) or is available by phoning 0800 44 44 49.
Assessments of bridges and other structures on the state highway network will continue throughout the week, and new information will be provided as it becomes available.