The Lyttelton Tunnel was re-opened for use by emergency vehicles at 6:30pm tonight, after an initial assessment by NZTA contractors.
The tunnel remains closed for non-emergency traffic pending a further detailed safety assessment to be undertaken tomorrow morning.
The tunnel was closed immediately following today's earthquake, as rockfalls caused significant damage to the tunnel canopy and to the tunnel control building. The NZTA's immediate priority has been to re-establish the tunnel as a route for emergency services in and out of Lyttelton.
All state highway bridge structures in the city have been inspected - while some have sustained minor damage all of the structures are operational. SH74 is closed at ANZAC Bridge between Wainoni and New Brighton Road. The Chaney's on-ramp on the Northern Motorway is also closed, but is likely to re-open tomorrow.
While some damage has been sustained on other parts of the state highway network in the region, all other highways remain open. The earthquake does not appear to have had any impact on state highways on the West Coast or the Otago and Southland regions.
There are reports of major damage to local roads in the city, as well as liquefaction and surface flooding.
NZTA staff have been evacuated from both of the agency's premises in Christchurch, and staff from the NZTA's Dunedin office are on standby to assist with inspections of highway infrastructure if required. Assessments of bridges and other structures on the state highway network will continue throughout the week, and new information will be provided as it becomes available.
The NZTA advises motorists to limit travel to essential trips and to use extreme caution when driving until further notice.
Information on earthquake damage to state highways in Canterbury will be regularly updated on www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) or is available by phoning 0800 44 44 49.
For more information please contact:
Media Manager - NZTA
T DDI 04 894 6285
M 021 276 3222