The NZ Transport Agency has confirmed plans to open State Highway 1 (SH1) north of Kaikoura to traffic on Friday 15 December, restoring the coastal highway link from Picton to Christchurch.
NZ Transport Agency Earthquake Recovery Manager Tim Crow says the reopening of the highway will give people two viable options for travel around the upper South Island, with the alternate route (via state highways 63, 6, 65 and 7 through Lewis Pass) remaining a reliable option for travel.
Mr Crow says when the road reopens several sites will still be under construction. There will be some unsealed surfaces, lane closures and stop/go traffic controls. The route will be closed at night in places for several months as a safety precaution, and planned closures will also be needed at times to carry out high-impact work.
“While we’re re-opening SH1 as early as we safely can to provide better access to Kaikoura and for those communities along the coastal route, the full rebuild of the highway will continue in 2018.”
Detailed information about ‘what open looks like’ is being shared via a dedicated web page - www.nzta.govt.nz/p2c(external link). The page will be updated regularly with more information – including photos and video footage - about what to expect on the route as the reopening date approaches.
Mr Crow says that whatever route people choose to take, the Transport Agency is urging them to allow plenty of extra time when planning journeys and to check the latest conditions at least two hours before travel (and at key route decision points when driving) so that they can get to their destination safely in case of delays.
“It’s important for drivers to understand that both routes have their own challenges so they need to think about the best option for them and where they’re heading. Either way people will need to allow plenty of time in case of unexpected delays or closures.”
The estimated travel time to drive between Picton and Christchurch on State Highway 1 when it re-opens in December is expected to be a minimum of 5 ½ hours. Driving on the alternate route is expected to take a minimum of 6 ½ hours.
Work will continue in 2018 to bring State Highway 1 back to its pre-earthquake condition and complete improvement on the 60km section of State Highway 1 between Clarence and Oaro. Improvements will also continue to be delivered on the alternate route.