The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists that the Lyttelton Tunnel will be periodically closed to traffic in the days ahead in order to allow for the safe passage of fuel and gas trucks through the tunnel. Delays of up to ten minutes can be expected during the closures.
The closures are necessary in order to allow fuel and gas trucks to travel safely to and from the Port of Lyttelton. Vehicles carrying dangerous goods are normally prohibited from using the tunnel, but earthquake damage has forced the closure of the Evans Pass Road, the normal access route for fuel and gas trucks to and from the port.
Fuel and gas trucks will be allowed through the tunnel under the supervision of Tunnel Control - i.e. one truck at a time with no other vehicles in the tunnel. These movements will take approximately ten minutes to complete.
Lighter vehicles carrying dangerous goods that can traverse the alternate Dyers Pass route between the city and the port will be required to use this route and will not be given access to the tunnel.
Temporary closures will be used as needed to allow the safe passage of fuel and gas trucks, but in order to minimise disruptions for motorists no closures will be enacted from 7am-9am, 12pm-1pm or 4pm-6pm.
NZTA Canterbury State Highways Operations Manager Peter Connors asks motorists to be patient while the closures are in effect.
“We are trying to cause the least amount of disruption for drivers, but it is vital to the region’s recovery that these fuel trucks are able to get to and from the port safely. Christchurch City Council is currently undertaking repairs on the Evans Pass road and at this stage it is unknown how long these repairs will take. In the meantime we ask people to understand that these closures are necessary to allow these vital supplies of fuel and gas to reach the city.”
Mr Connors says the tunnel has been assessed thoroughly for safety and it remains structurally sound and safe for use.
Up to dated information Canterbury state highways including the Lyttelton Tunnel can be found at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) or by phoning 0800 44 44 49.
For further information on the situation on the ground in Christchurch visit the council’s earthquake information page at http://canterburyearthquake.org.nz/(external link) or http://www.metroinfo.co.nz/(external link).