The NZ Transport Agency confirms that State Highway 1 (SH1) between Picton and Christchurch will re-open for night-time travel from Monday 30 April.
Transport Agency Earthquake Recovery Manager Tim Crow says 24-hour operation has been the main focus since the road reopened in daytime hours in December and is an important milestone for all road users and residents.
“We’ve delivered an extensive construction programme over the last year and the critical safety work will soon be complete. More than 30,000 square metres of steel mesh has been wrapped around slips south of Kaikōura and new infrastructure such as bridges and seawalls has been built to the north.
“All of this construction work is designed to ensure the route stays safe and resilient for the future and we’ll be continuing our work to finish and improve the corridor throughout 2018.”
When the highway reopens at night, people can expect to see:
Multiple sections where traffic moves to a single lane, which will be controlled by traffic signals rather than current daytime Stop/Go controls
New signage including ‘no stopping’ and ‘rockfall’ signs (in addition to existing mesh and physical barriers) to protect road users and alert them to potential danger
Trains travelling day and night in either direction between Blenheim and Christchurch: drivers should take care at level crossings and check both ways before proceeding
Different types of traffic using the route including an increase in heavy vehicles, for example trucks and buses. Cyclists are advised to only use the road during the day for their own safety – due to multiple traffic lights and rockfall/no stopping areas
That there will continue to be no stopping or camping in the two most earthquake-damaged areas just north and south of Kaikōura.
The safety of road users remains a top priority, Mr Crow says.
“Road crews will be carrying out regular observations and inspections of the route throughout the night,” says Tresca Forrester, Network Operations Manager for the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery team (NCTIR). “We’ll be taking a proactive approach to wet weather throughout autumn and winter.
“In the event of persistent heavy rainfall, we may close the road as a precautionary measure – this can happen day or night. So drivers need to allow plenty of time for their trip and stay up-to-date on real-time travel information through www.nzta.govt.nz/p2c or by calling 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49). We recommend checking at least two hours before travel and during your trip.”
Until SH1 reopens on 30 April, two sections continue to be closed every night between 7.30pm and 7.30am – they are (north of Kaikōura) between Clarence and Mangamaunu and (south of Kaikōura) between Goose Bay and the SH1/Leader Road Intersection.