The Lyttelton Tunnel Bylaw covers the tunnel’s safety rules and gives the tunnel control officers the authority they need to manage the tunnel and ensure safety for all users.

Earlier this year the Transport Agency consulted on updates to the bylaw controlling the use of the tunnel. Through this process we received a number of submissions and negotiated amendments to the proposed bylaw text to address the concerns raised. The review process has now been completed with the new bylaw notified in the NZ Gazette and came into effect on
1 September 2016.

The goal of the bylaw review was to provide:

  • a clearer policy on vehicles transporting loose material (eg sand, soil or fertiliser). These loads must now be covered both before and after load delivery to reduce dust and dirt in the tunnel
  • for an extended area over which the bylaw can be enforced
  • a clearer policy on access through the tunnel for dangerous goods and overdimension vehicles
  • updated legislation references and clarifying how the bylaw relates to other legislation.

Why were changes to the bylaw required?

Mandatory truck and trailer load covers

Dust has become a safety and maintenance issue in the tunnel. Since the Christchurch earthquakes up to eight tonnes of dirt and dust is being removed from the tunnel every month.

While the Land Transport Act requires that vehicles secure their loads so material does not escape, it may not be clear to all users that this also applies to vehicles carrying loose bulk loads. For this reason the bylaw now requires that all vehicles capable of carrying loose bulk loads with a gross laden weight of 6000 kg or more to be covered in a way that minimises dust or residue escaping. A loose bulk load is defined as the transport of unpackaged material that is capable of generating or releasing dust due to wind action or movement and includes but is not limited to fertiliser, construction or demolition material, waste, soil, sand, or stock feed, but excludes bulk materials such as logs or scrap metal.

Changes to the section of SH74 over which the bylaw can be enforced

Although the provisions of the bylaw still cover the length of the Tunnel between the Heathcote and Lyttelton portals the area over which the Bylaw is able to be enforced has been amended. On the Lyttelton side of the tunnel, the bylaw can be enforced along State Highway 74 to the intersection of Norwich Quay and Oxford Street. On the Heathcote side the enforcement area extends to include the old layover bay, 200 metres north of the Bridle Path Road on-ramp.

These changes were required to allow the tunnel control officers to adequately enforce provisions of the bylaw. Where compliance requires vehicles to be stopped and inspected, such as to confirm the adequacy of covers, a safe area away from the Tunnel itself is required.

Dangerous goods and overdimension vehicles

For safety, dangerous goods and overdimension vehicles are not allowed to use the tunnel. Since the Canterbury earthquakes and resulting closure of Evans Pass and Sumner Road, the alternative routes have not been available and vehicles carrying dangerous goods have been allowed to use the tunnel during restricted hours when the tunnel can be closed to all other traffic.

Tunnel Control has been doing its best to provide access through the tunnel for dangerous goods and some over-dimension vehicles at an appropriate level, until the Evans Pass and Sumner Road route is re-opened. The revised bylaw confirms the maximum height and width limits as follows:

  • Any vehicle more than 2.6m wide needs permission to enter the tunnel.
  • No vehicles more than 4.27m in height can use the tunnel.

Note: There are no changes to the rules outlining what are considered dangerous goods. The Land Transport Rule: Dangerous Goods 2005 has been used to set the requirements for dangerous goods.

Special authorisation is required from the Tunnel Manager for vehicles carrying restricted dangerous goods and permission from a tunnel control officer for other dangerous goods.

Up to 45kg of LPG or three approved cylinders can be taken through the tunnel without any permission.

For more information:
Lyttelton Tunnel Bylaw 2016 [PDF, 43 KB] 
Lyttelton Tunnel Bylaw. Information sheet for commercial users  2106 [PDF, 462 KB]