The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has confirmed that State Highway 1 south of Kaikoura will reopen at 4pm this afternoon (Thursday 16 September). The road was closed nearly a week ago by a massive land slip.
NZTA Canterbury State Highways Operations Manager Peter Connors says initially one lane of the highway will open with KiwiRail using the northbound lane for a temporary rail line. This is necessary to allow further work on stabilising the slip to be carried out.
“Depending on how stabilising and clearing work goes we would expect to have both lanes of the highway open within two days. While the highway is down to a single lane, “Stop-Go” sign operators will be working around the clock. Road users can expect delays of up to half an hour as work continues at the site.
Peter Connors says the patience of road users and businesses during this trying time, has been outstanding. Most understood the huge job contractors faced to clear the slip and were appreciative of the efforts they were making to get this key freight route open as quickly as possible. The 30,000 cubic metre slip is one of the largest to close a state highway in recent times.
“We know the importance of getting this vital freight route open to help re-build the Canterbury region after the earthquake and we have been working around the clock to make this happen.”
Road blocks put in place when this land slip struck last Friday night will be removed to tie in with the opening of the highway at 4pm this afternoon.
Peter Connors says it has been a real team effort right across the board to get this highway operating again with everyone playing their part. The NZTA is also grateful to the Hurunui and Kaikoura District Councils who provided a local road detour and 'Te Runanga o Kaikoura" and Environment Canterbury for their assistance.
Mr Connors said contractors are likely to be working at the site for several more days and will continue to work 24 hours a day until both lanes of the highway are open. He said finding a solution to the on-going stability of the slip site is something the NZTA is working on with KiwiRail.
Up to date information on the slip can be found at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) or by phoning 0800 44 44 49.