One week on from the opening of State Highway 1 (SH1) north of Kaikōura, the NZ Transport Agency is pleased with how the restored coastal corridor is performing.
NZ Transport Agency Journey Manager Tresca Forrester says that the network has been operating well and journey time estimates have been consistent so far. Around 2000-3000 vehicles have used the route each day, including an average of 700-800 trucks. Pre-earthquake vehicles numbered up to 3500 a day.
“In the last week, the average journey time between Picton and Christchurch has been between 5 and 5½ hours. However, we expect things to get much busier now for the Christmas holidays,” Ms Forrester says.
“The week from 27 December is one of the busiest times of the year on all our roads so if you’re planning to travel then make sure you allow plenty of extra time in case of delays, especially if you’re catching a ferry or are on a tight timeframe.”
The reopening of SH1 gives people two options for daytime travel around the upper South Island, with the alternate route (via State Highways 63, 6, 65 and 7 through Lewis Pass) remaining a reliable 24/7 option for travel.
Parts of SH1 are still a construction site with unsealed sections, one lane, and stop/go traffic controls in some areas. The route will be closed at night (between 8.30pm and 7am) in two sections just north and south of Kaikōura for several months as a safety precaution, and there is no stopping in these sections in the daytime either other than in the marked safe stopping areas.
“Most road users have been cautious and sensible when driving the route and this includes sticking to the speed limits but unfortunately some have not. We’d like to remind people that the reduced speed limits are there to help keep people safe and Police will be monitoring the route to support this.”
For real-time travel information and details on SH1 (including closure locations) and the alternate route via Lewis Pass go to www.nzta.govt.nz/p2c, or call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49).
The Transport Agency recommends drivers check information at least two hours before travel and at key decision points along the route. Electronic signs displaying real-time information will also be positioned at key locations.