The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) says it is still on track to re-open at least one lane of State Highway 1 south of Kaikoura to traffic on Thursday, after the highway was closed by a huge land slip last Friday night.
NZTA Canterbury State Highways Operations Manager Peter Connors says crews are working around the clock to clear the road. It now appears that as much as 30,000 cubic metres of debris may have come down with the slip.
“We’re working hard to clear the slip as soon as possible, and we’re also putting in a lot of effort to stabilise the face 100 metres above the road. This is important to minimise the risk of further slips disrupting road and rail transport after the route is re-opened.”
Mr Connors says clearing the slip and stabilising the face is a huge task which must be carried out in a careful and controlled way that does not put the safety of those working on the site at risk.
“The removal of material from the slip should accelerate as the excavators work their way down the slip face. Care has to be taking not to remove too much material from the bottom of the slip to maintain the working platform for the excavators. Our crews will work around the clock until the slip is cleared.”
Mr Connors said the NZTA was working with KiwiRail to find a long term solution to help ensure on-going stability of the slip site.
A detour to Christchurch via Route 70 – the inland Kaikoura Route - is available for light vehicles, as well as buses and trucks weighing less than 22 tonnes and not towing trailers. This road is not suitable for heavier and longer vehicles, which must to continue using State Highway State Highway 63 through the Wairau Valley and State Highway7 through the Lewis Pass to travel south to Christchurch.
Up to date information on the slip can be found at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) or by phoning 0800 44 44 49. A further media update will be issued on Wednesday morning.