Initial inspections show that Canterbury State Highways appear to have held up well after this morning's major earthquake, but the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is urging people to only travel if it's essential.
The NZTA says while there has been some damage to a number of state highways, only two closures have thus far been required. Slips and drop outs in the road surface along with some earth movement around bridge abutments are the major problem at this stage.
NZTA Canterbury State Highways Operations Manager Peter Connors says this has lead to the closure of State Highway 77 between Metheven and Windwhistle and Mid Canterbury. These problems are also affecting State Highway 75 from Taipapu to Kaituna in the Banks Peninsula area near Christchurch, but it remains open. Signposted detours are available for highways that have been closed because of earth quake damage.
“Checks of key state highway structures in the region show that overall they have stood up to this quake remarkably well. Key bridges on the State Highway 1 over the Ashburton and Rakaia Rivers to the south of Christchurch and across the Waimakariri River north of Christchurch are operational. The Chaney’s Road on Ramp on to State Highway 1 north of Christchurch is closed.”
Peter Connors says NZTA contractors are dealing with earthquake related damage across the region including State Highway 71 and State Highway 74 where contractors are working to remove humps in the road. The earthquake does not appear to have had any impact on State Highways on the West Coast.
Mr Connors said motorists should limit trips to essential travel, and extreme caution should be exercised throughout the area until a full assessment has been completed.
Information on earthquake damage to state highways in Canterbury will be regularly updated on www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) or is available by phoning 0800 44 44 49.