The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) says it will be this Thursday at the earliest before State Highway 1 at Peketa about 8km south of Kaikoura reopens, after being closed since Friday night by a massive slip.
NZTA Canterbury State Highways Operations Manager Peter Connors says contractors have been on the job since early this morning clearing the biggest slips ever seen on this stretch of state highway. At this stage the aim is to have at least one lane of the highway open by Thursday.
"Having this highway closed is tough on road users and the Agency appreciates the patience they have shown in having to take detours, some of which have added up to two hours or more to people’s travel times."
Mr Connors said stabilising the slip is an on-going challenge. Currently there are two specialists abseiling the slip site removing loose debris, so this does not pose a threat to contractors working at the site. At this stage the slip is not stable enough to work through the night. This situation will be reviewed again tomorrow."
Detours are available around the slip site, with a detour for light traffic only on Route 70 - the inland Kaikoura route. Heavy vehicles must use SH63 Wairau Valley and SH7 the Lewis Pass to travel south to Christchurch.
Mr Connors says finding a solution to help ensue on-going stability of the slip site is something the NZTA is working on with Kiwirail and Environment Canterbury. Spoil from the slip is being used to help with local flood protection works Environment Canterbury are carrying out.
Up to date information on this slip can be found at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz or by phoning 0800 44 44 49.
For more information please contact:
Bob Nettleton - Regional Communications Advisor
T DDI 03 951 3005
M 021 954 928