The NZTA advises that the Lyttelton Tunnel remains closed to private motor vehicles until further notice.
The tunnel was re-opened for use by emergency vehicles at 6:30pm last night. While detours on local roads are available for private vehicle access in and out of Lyttelton, the NZTA is asking motorists to avoid all non-essential travel in order to keep roads as clear as possible for emergency services.
The Lyttelton tunnel was closed immediately following yesterday'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.
NZTA’s Networks Operations Manager for Canterbury Pete Connors says that while the tunnel itself has been inspected and remains structurally sound, the damage to the tunnel canopy is severe and it will need to be removed before the tunnel can be re-opened to all traffic.
“In its present state the canopy is a significant safety hazard. There are also risks from ongoing rockfalls on the tunnel approaches, and we’re working now to retrofit containment devices to catch any falling rocks,” Mr Connors said.
The tunnel control building is also badly damaged, and the tunnels electrical systems and exhaust fans acre currently operating on back-up generators.
Mr Connors said a section of SH74 is closed from the ANZAC Bridge through to Bridge Street. While the bridge is structurally sound, the approaches on either side are affected by liquefaction and surface flooding. The Chaney's on-ramp on the Northern Motorway is also closed, but is likely to re-open later today.
All state highways and bridge structures in and around the city were inspected overnight, and while some have sustained minor damage all of the bridge structures are safe, and all other state highways in the region are 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 has been significant damage to local roads and bridges in the city, as well as liquefaction and surface flooding.
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.
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.