The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) says the last remaining Canterbury highway closed by last Saturday's earthquake has partially re-opened.
State Highway 74, a key route into the Port of Lyttelton, has been closed for six days while road foundations damaged by the quake have been repaired.
NZTA Canterbury State Highways Operations Manager Peter Connors says SH74 in Christchurch city is now open from Travis/Frost/Anzac Drive to the intersection of Dyers Road/Bridge Street.
Mr Connors says SH74 remains closed from the intersection of Dyers Road/Bridge Street to Metro Place until further notice while the Christchurch City Council replace damaged pipes across the highway affecting the operation of the waste water treatment plant. The detour for this section of SH74 is via Breezes, Cuthbert's and Maces Roads, and will be suitable for all traffic.
The SH74 Heathcote underpass also remains closed due to potential rockfall hazards above the road. A permanent repair is underway, involving blasting and the installation of rock netting. This work could take up to a week complete.
Mr Connors also reminded motorists that the Lyttelton Tunnel will be periodically closed to traffic in the days ahead in order to allow for the safe passage of fuel and gas trucks through the tunnel. Delays of up to ten minutes can be expected during the closures.
Vehicles carrying dangerous goods are normally prohibited from using the tunnel, but earthquake damage has forced the closure of the Evans Pass Road, the normal access route for fuel and gas trucks to and from the port.
Fuel and gas trucks will be allowed through the tunnel under the supervision of Tunnel Control - i.e. one truck at a time with no other vehicles in the tunnel. Lighter vehicles carrying dangerous goods that can traverse the alternate Dyers Pass route between the city and the port will be required to use this route and will not be given access to the tunnel.
Temporary closures will be used as needed to allow the safe passage of fuel and gas trucks, but in order to minimise disruptions for motorists no closures will be enacted from 7am-9am, 12pm-1pm or 4pm-6pm.
Mr Connors asks motorists to be patient while the closures are in effect.
“We are trying to cause the least amount of disruption for drivers, but it is vital to the region’s recovery that these fuel trucks are able to get to and from the port safely. Christchurch City Council is currently undertaking repairs on the Evans Pass road and at this stage it is unknown how long these repairs will take. In the meantime we ask people to understand that these closures are necessary to allow these vital supplies of fuel and gas to reach the city.”
Mr Connors says the tunnel has been assessed thoroughly for safety and it remains structurally sound and safe for use.
Other state highways in the region currently affected by earthquake damage include:
SH1 - Chaneys on-ramp. Repairs are progressing well and it is anticipated that the on-ramp will be opened to traffic on Saturday night on an unsealed surface.
State Highway 77 in mid-Canterbury is open with a two kilometre signposted detour from Glentunnel to Glenroy, where there is substantial subsidence in the road. The slip is still moving and this detour will remain in place for some time with permanent repairs to commence early next week.
Up to date information on Canterbury state highways can be found at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) or by phoning 0800 44 44 49.
For further information on the situation on the ground in Christchurch visit the council’s earthquake information page at http://canterburyearthquake.org.nz/(external link) or (external link)