From the end of April, State Highway 1 (SH1) between Picton and Christchurch will re-open for night-time travel for the first time since the Kaikōura earthquake in November 2016.
NZ Transport Agency Earthquake Recovery Manager Tim Crow says critical safety work on the coastal corridor is almost complete with the team making a massive push over the next four weeks to reach this milestone.
“We’re pleased that drivers will soon be able to use SH1 day and night – it takes us another step closer to fully restoring the transport networks in the region. The exact date is still to be confirmed so until it is, people can plan to use the road 24/7 from 1 May. There will still be worksites along the route in 2018 as we continue to make it safe and resilient for the future.”
When the road reopens at night there will continue to be no stopping or camping allowed in the two most earthquake-damaged areas just north and south of Kaikōura – stopping is only allowed where signposted as a ‘safe stopping’ zone. Also, the multiple sections where traffic moves to a single lane will be controlled by traffic lights at night rather than current Stop/Go controls.
To complete the essential work needed to re-open the road at night, a short closure in the section south of Kaikōura is planned for mid-April (date/s to be confirmed). Scaling work and guardrail replacements, which need to be undertaken in a narrow section of road, can’t be completed while the road is open or during the evening. Traffic will still be able to travel south of Kaikōura using the Inland Road (Route 70).
The safety of road users on SH1 remains a top priority for the Transport Agency as more wet weather is expected throughout autumn.
“Crews will continue to monitor SH1 at all times and in the event of persistent heavy rainfall we may close the road as a precautionary measure – this can happen day or night. So drivers need to allow plenty of time for their trip and stay up-to-date on real-time travel information through www.nzta.govt.nz/p2c or by calling 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49). We recommend checking at least two hours before travel and at key decision points on the route.”
Until the road reopens in late April, two sections of SH1 continue to be closed every night as a safety precaution between 7.30pm and 7.30am – they are (north of Kaikōura) between Clarence and Mangamaunu and (south of Kaikōura) between Goose Bay and the SH1/Leader Road Intersection.
Drivers should continue to take care at level crossings as trains and other rail vehicles can run at any time and from either direction on the line between Picton and Christchurch as the recovery works continue. Trains travel faster than they appear and can’t stop quickly. Drivers should always check both ways at level crossings before proceeding.