Crews are continuing work to assess the safety of several key South Island routes, clear slips and safely re-open roads as soon as conditions allow.
Transport Agency Highways Manager Neil Walker says work will continue to focus on restoring access to communities which have been cut off by damage from Monday’s quake and establishing safe and reliable alternative routes.
Twenty-four hour highway access to Hanmer Springs from State Highway 7 via State Highway 7A has been restored, following assessments showing a reduced risk of further rockfalls.
Crews will continue working urgently on the Kaikoura Emergency Access Road (inland route 70) between Culverden and Kaikoura. The road is under strict control of Civil Defence Canterbury. This is due to the dangerous conditions, and the road is currently only being used to deliver supplies to Kaikoura. There is currently no public access due to the unsafe and challenging conditions. Crews are working hard to restore public access as soon as possible. Civil Defence Canterbury will provide further information as soon as safe public access is restored.
The alternative state highway route from Picton to Christchurch, via Murchison and the Lewis Pass has been open since late Monday afternoon. This will likely be the main state highway route from Christchurch to Picton for several months, given the amount of work which will be required to clear the large slips which have closed SH1.
The most up to date information on road closures and conditions in the region is available here.(external link)
With the closure of SH1, Mr Walker says the Lewis Pass route will be carrying higher volumes of traffic, and people are urged to allow extra time for their journeys. People should allow an additional 90 minutes to two hours for the journey between Christchurch and Picton on the Lewis Pass route - average journey times between Christchurch and Picton are currently expected to take seven and a half hours. Fuel, food and toilet stops are available along the route at Culverden, Springs Junction, Murchison and St Arnaud.
With continuing aftershocks contributing to the on-going risk of further slips and rockfalls in several parts of the South Island, people are urged to drive with extra caution and comply with all temporary speed restrictions.
People can call 0800 44 44 49 for updates and the Transport Agency’s website and social media accounts will be also updated as more information is available.