The NZ Transport Agency is continuing to check the safety of bridges and infrastructure on Canterbury state highways as the region continues to be affected by aftershocks following Saturday's earthquake.
Canterbury State Highways Operations Manager Peter Connors says with dozens of aftershocks in the region since Saturday, further safety assessments are continuing on state highway bridges and other infrastructure as a precautionary measure. These are essential as the safety of all road users is the NZTA's top priority.
"So far there is nothing from these assessments that indicate that the shocks, some as high as five on the Richter scale, have caused further damage to the region’s state highways. These safety assessments will continue as long they are required. A safe and usable state highway network is crucial to Canterbury to ensure the safe movement of the goods, services and people that is needed to help re-build the region following this devastating quake."
Mr Connors says State Highway 74 in Christchurch city could open in the next day or two. The highway is one of the main routes into the Port of Lyttelton. It has remained closed since Saturday morning's quake.
Mr Connors says a decision on re-opening the highway will be made at midday tomorrow (9 September). If the good progress being made on repair work continues, there is the possibility of the highway opening later tomorrow.
“Because this is a key freight corridor into the Port of Lyttelton the NZTA is aware of the importance of opening it as soon as possible, but before that can occur, we have to be certain there is no risk to road users. A detour using local roads is available for light vehicles. All heavy commercial vehicles travelling to the Port of Lyttelton are asked to detour via SH 1 Johns Road to SH73 Yaldhurst Road and Brougham Street.”
Mr Connors said.it will be some time before the NZTA knows exactly how much damage the Canterbury state highway network sustained from last Saturday’s quake, as reports of damage continue to filter in.
Earlier today the Lyttleton Tunnel was closed for about three hours so it could be checked for damage following a strong aftershock. The tunnel only suffered supeficial damage and re-opened at 11.30 this morning. Meanwhile, the Chaney’s Road on-ramp on to State Highway 1 north of Christchurch remains could open before the end of the week
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)