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Last updated 18 September 2018

Frequently asked questions

  •   What is the Christchurch Northern Corridor?

    The Christchurch Northern Corridor is a combined contract to build these related projects as one:

    • The Transport Agency’s Christchurch Northern Corridor Project – a new four-laning motorway from just south of the Waimakariri River, bypassing Belfast and Redwood to the east and connecting with QEII Drive near Winters Road.
    • The CCC’s Christchurch Northern Corridor Extension project – a four lane link from QEII Drive to Cranford Street
    • The CCC’s Cranford Street Upgrade project – the four laning along Cranford Street to Innes Road and upgrading the Cranford/Innes intersection.

    The CNC project also includes; an upgrade of QEII Drive to four lanes between Main North Road and Innes Road which will reduce congestion and delays for traffic travelling to the port, the addition of a third north and southbound lane on the Waimakariri Motorway Bridge and a clip-on cycle way, off-road pedestrian and cycle facilities linking to existing and new cycle facilities in the area and improved drainage infrastructure.

  •   Why is this project needed?

    Main North Road (State Highway 74) passes through Belfast and Redwood and provides the main access to the Christchurch City Centre and Lyttelton Port from the north (via QEII Drive). The large volume of local and through traffic travelling along Main North Road is creating and experiencing significant congestion - reducing safety and efficiency for people using this vital road. Even though substantial efforts are being made to reduce congestion by changing behaviours, congestion is still going to increase as residential and business development continues in the north and the wider city.

    This project will unlock space for all travel modes and the transport solutions the community want to see like improved public transport.

    This project will improve safety and reduce congestion for all road users on this vital transport corridor. It will also enable improvements to public transport, walking and cycling and local access.

    An efficient and reliable transport network into, out of and across Greater Christchurch is important to the social, economic and environmental future of the City and the South Island. Efficient transport links to Lyttelton Port are also critical for supporting New Zealand trade.

  •   Construction programme on Cranford Street?

    Construction on Cranford Street and the Cranford/Innes intersection started in earnest at the beginning of 2018 and will be finished by December 2019.  Construction started with the relocation of services (power, water, and telecommunications) and will continue with storm water and kerb and channel, followed by the improved road surface.

  •   Construction programme on QEII Drive?

    Work on QEII Drive started in late 2017; it began with the embankment for the motorway over bridge and the new eastbound lanes (on the north side of QEII Drive).  We will start work on the westbound lanes and construction of the double roundabouts at the end of 2018 (and move all traffic over to the new eastbound lanes).  Work on QEII Drive is likely to finish in mid-2020.

  •   Will the Christchurch Northern Corridor reduce traffic on Main North Road and Marshland Road?

    Yes. With commuter and freight traffic using the Christchurch Northern Corridor, traffic volumes on Main North Road and Marshland Road will drop significantly. This will reduce congestion, improve travel times for all road users and improve amenity for local residents. It will also assist in making these roads safer for all users including cyclists and pedestrians and free up room for public transport facilities.

    Our traffic modelling shows that by 2026 the number of vehicles on Main North Road (Redwood) per day will be 42,000 if the Christchurch Northern Corridor is not built and 24,000 if it is built. Traffic volumes on this road in 2015 were 35,000, a result of changes in travel patterns since the earthquakes.

    There were 15,000 vehicles a day on Marshland Road in 2015.  By 2026 there would be 29,000 vehicles a day if the Christchurch Northern Corridor is not built or 18,000 if the Christchurch Northern Corridor is built.

    By 2026 42,000 vehicles a day will use the Waimakariri to QEII section of the Christchurch Northern Corridor.

    (This modelling is based on post-earthquake traffic flows and updated development and growth predictions, and assumes the Western Belfast Bypass, another NZ Transport Agency project, is built. By 2026 the Western Belfast Bypass will carry 24,000 vehicles a day.)

  •   How will the Christchurch Northern Corridor affect public transport?

    Once the Christchurch Northern Corridor project is completed, control of Main North Road will be handed to Christchurch City Council (CCC). As the construction of the Christchurch Northern Corridor will result in significantly reduced traffic volumes on Main North Road, there is an opportunity for CCC to make changes to Main North Road which will further enhance public transport provision along the route, extending bus lanes, and making changes to intersection configurations. These changes will result in improved public transport journey times along Main North Road which is likely to make public transport become more attractive.

  •   Will there be provisions for pedestrians and cyclists?

    A shared off-road pedestrian and cycle path will be constructed parallel to the Christchurch Northern Corridor. It will connect with QEII Drive, Grimseys Road, Prestons Road, Radcliffe Road, Belfast Road, Guthries Road, Main North Road as well as Owen Mitchell Park and the future ‘Source to Sea’ pedestrian and cycle path along the Styx River. The off road shared cycle path will continue along Cranford Street to end at Mcfaddens Road.  From McFaddens Road, an on-road cycle lane will be included on both sides of Cranford Street to Innes Road.  The Christchurch City Council is planning a link from the Cranford Street off-road pedestrian and cycle path to the Papanui Parallel cycle path.

    In short the shared pedestrian/cycle path will provide and link to safe travel options between Waimakariri and St Albans. Cycle facilities on QEII Drive will remain and will connect to the CNC shared path as part of the QEII Drive four-laning.

    The Christchurch Northern Corridor will also significantly reduce traffic on Main North Road and Marshland Road making these roads safer and more appealing for cyclists and pedestrians.

    Local councils are looking into options for improving cycle connections to and from North Canterbury. The Christchurch Northern Corridor cycle/pedestrian path will be linked into this network once confirmed.

  •   Will the Christchurch Northern Corridor be elevated?

    Most of the Christchurch Northern Corridor will be constructed at or near ground level. Flyovers will be constructed so local roads can go over the Christchurch Northern Corridor (Belfast Road, Radcliffe Road and Prestons Road). These overpasses will be about eight metres high.

    The Christchurch Northern Corridor will be elevated by about eight metres above surrounding ground level at the northern end of the alignment, to pass over the Main North Railway line and Main North Road. It will also be elevated at the southern end for the QEII Drive interchange.

  •   How will noise be managed?

    Low-noise asphalt will be used along the majority of the new motorway. This is a quieter surface than the chipseal used on many roads. Noise reducing earth bunds and fences will also be used in the semi-rural areas near housing. These will be similar to the bunds and fences near the QEII Drive/Innes Road intersection. Concrete barriers will also be used on the project bridges.

    It is believed that these mitigations will keep noise to an acceptable level. However, testing has been done to measure noise levels in the area before any changes are made and these recordings will be used as a base line as the project advances. The NZ Standard for Road traffic noise – new and altered roads (NZS 6806:2010) is being used.

    The Christchurch Northern Corridor Alliance team do our best to reduce/limit construction noise as much as possible and we will keep local people informed when construction noise is likely.

  •   What will be the speed limit on the Christchurch Northern Corridor?

    The speed limit on the Christchurch Northern Corridor will be 100km/h between the Waimakariri River and QEII Drive. It will reduce to 80km/h at the interchange with QEII Drive. The speed limit on QEII Drive will remain at 80km/h and landscaping and urban design elements such as median and shoulder widths will be varied to slow traffic where the speed limit reduces to 80km/h. The speed through the Cranford basin section will reduce from 80km/h to 50km/h. The speed limits will not change on the Cranford Street section of the project, which is now 50Km/h.

  •   Why is Marshland Road not being upgraded instead?

    Upgrading Marshland Road was investigated and dismissed due to unfavourable ground conditions meaning that widening and upgrading the road would require significant ground improvement and future maintenance costs. And the large number of existing property accesses on to Marshland Road would limit the potential to develop a high volume, high speed arterial road. Plans for significant future developments adjoining this route would also require access to Marshland Road further reducing its functionality.

  •   Why is there a barrier planned along Cranford Street up to Innes Road stopping right turns?

    The barrier along Cranford Street has several functions; it will prevent front on collisions, reduce turning movement at intersections (thereby reducing hold ups) and stop commuters using suburban streets as rat-runs or shortcuts. While this may mean the people who live in these areas have to drive a little farther to get home, the barriers will improve safety and quality of life for people living in these side streets by greatly reducing traffic.

  •   When will the Cranford Basin storm-water improvements be done?

    The upgrade of the Cranford Basin into an improved storm-water retention area and possible new forested wetland area is a separate project.  Work on the improved storm-water retention area is underway. Turning this area into a forested wetland area with public walkways and other facilities is a possible future Christchurch City Council project that will need public support to gain funding through the council’s planning processes.

  •   What changes are planned for the Waimakariri Bridge?

    The Waimakariri Bridge is being widened to provide for a third northbound lane and a third southbound lane, which is planned to operate as a high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane during morning peak. The widening will take place on the inside of the existing bridges. A new clip-on cycleway will be constructed on the outside of the southbound bridge.

  •   Will cycle improvements be included across the Waimakariri River?

    The CNC project includes an off-road cycle facility between Cranford Street and the Empire Road off-ramp. And with the clip-on cycleway on the bridge, it will include a path across the river. We are continuing to investigate how to connect the cycleway onto the bridge and to the existing road network on the north and south side of the bridge.

  •   Will this project increase traffic on Cranford Street and QEII Drive?

    This new section of motorway may attract some traffic that may otherwise have used Marshland Road or Papanui Road but the vast majority of traffic entering Cranford Street or QEII Drive from the new Christchurch Northern Corridor would have travelled this way anyway; but they would have travelled via Main North Road.

    Traffic growth due to businesses and residential growth in Christchurch and Canterbury will cause traffic to increase on all main roads including both Cranford Street and QEII Drive over the next decade regardless of this project. However, because of the changes on Cranford Street and QEII Drive these roads will be able to cope with this extra traffic.

    The Christchurch City Council has further improvements to Cranford Street from Innes Road to the CBD in their long term plan, as part of the overall transport plan for North Christchurch. This will reduce congestion and rat-running in the rest of St Albans and Edgeware.

  •   What are the short strips sticking out of the ground? Or what are you doing to speed up construction?

    When a structure or embankment is built on soft ground, the load on the soft soil is initially partially supported by the incompressible water in the soil. Over time water slowly drains out from under the load.  The load is then transferred to the soil, the soil consolidates and settlement occurs. The process of settlement takes a long time.

    To reduce the settlement time a temporary extra fill load (stone and gravel) is put on the site called preload. The time required for this preload to achieve the required compression can be shortened by installing wick drains. The drains give the water a shorter drainage path and allow for the consolidation to take place in months instead of years.

    Wick drains are made of a synthetic material that is installed vertically into soft ground. The drains are around 10cm wide by 5mm thick consisting of a corrugated plastic strip wrapped in a filter fabric.

  •   What is an alliance and who is in it?

    Normally you would have a design ready for construction and the government would hire a contractor to build it.

    A project alliance is a single contract for taking the project from the current phase (concept design) to completion. Project alliancing is an approach aimed at creating mutually beneficial relationships between all parties to ensure best project outcomes. Unlike traditional forms of contract where risk is allocated to different parties, under a ‘pure’ project alliance, the alliance participants take collective ownership and equitable sharing of all risks associated with the delivery of the project.

    The risk/reward arrangements are designed so that exceptional performance will deliver excellent outcomes for all parties while poor performance will result in poor outcomes for all parties.

    Some of the alliance principles are:

    • Collective responsibility for performance with an equitable sharing of risk and reward.
    • A peer relationship where all participants have an equal say.
    • All decisions must be best for the project.
    • Clear responsibilities within a no-blame culture.
    • Full access to the resources, skills and expertise of all parties.
    • Innovative thinking with a commitment to achieve outstanding outcomes.
    • Open and honest communication - no hidden agendas.

    This alliance contract is between the NZ Transport Agency, Christchurch City Council, Fulton Hogan, Aurecon and Jacobs. It is a great example of central and local government working together to create a safe, reliable transport network that meets the needs of all road users, including cyclists, pedestrians and those using public transport.

  •   What will the landscaping and urban design be like?

    This motorway corridor will become the main northern entrance to Ōtautahi Christchurch and we want this arrival experience to celebrate Christchurch’s proud natural character and love of parks and gardens.

    The urban design concept for this project has been christened the ‘Totara Highway’ as we hope to reflect the historic ecology of the area while also acknowledging the changes that have happened as local communities have grown. This concept will create a parkland corridor, which softens the edges of the new motorway, providing pleasant human-scale places.  The shared pedestrian/cycle path will meander through a natural landscape connecting locals to schools, shops and work.  The plants we are using are almost entirely native with seeds sourced locally. Many of our urban design features will also have a native plant motif including the three bridges you will drive under as you enter Christchurch. These will also have light features to add interest and enchantment at night.

    We hope the urban design and landscaping design is sensitive to the current and historic environment. We want the motorway corridor to enhance the everyday lives of the local community for generations to come.  

    More info on our landscaping/urban design is in our urban design draft concept plan:

  •   How much travel time will be saved once the new motorway is open?

    Since the Western Belfast Bypass has opened congestion on from the north has improved. However, travel times to and from North Canterbury still vary, especially in the morning and evening peaks. This inconsistency makes travel frustrating and difficult to plan reliably.  Once the new motorway is open travel time is expected to improve via both Main North road and Marshland Road.  Travel times between Woodend and Bealey Avenue are expected to average out as follows:

    • Morning peak if travelling via Main North Road - 30 minutes
    • Morning peak if travelling via CNC Motorway - 25 minutes
    • Evening peak if travelling via Main North Road - 28 minutes
    • Evening peak if travelling via CNC Motorway - 23 minutes
  •   How will the Christchurch Northern Corridor connect with existing roads at the northern end?

    In order to connect the Christchurch Northern Corridor to the existing Northern Motorway some changes are required:

    • The existing Chaneys on-ramp will be removed, meaning there will be no access at this point onto the Christchurch Northern Corridor. Access will be provided further west by using Main North Road.
    • Traffic heading south on the Northern Motorway will veer left onto the Christchurch Northern Corridor (CNC).  
    • Traffic heading north on the Christchurch Northern Corridor will go under the Northern Motorway’s southbound lanes, where the Northern Motorway with merge with the CNC northbound north bound lanes.  (An additional northbound lane is required on the existing Waimakariri River Bridge to provide for safe and efficient traffic merging from the Western Belfast Bypass, Main North Road and the Christchurch Northern Corridor.  The three lanes northbound will be extended through to Tram Road.
  •   How will the Christchurch Northern Corridor connect with existing roads at the southern end?

    The Christchurch Northern Corridor will connect at QEII Drive with a 'grade-separated' interchange. The Christchurch Northern Corridor will go over the top of QEII Drive on a bridge. Under the overbridge there will be on and off-ramps and two connected roundabouts that will make access in all directions possible. (This interchange will be similar to the recently completed Southern Motorway /Curletts Road interchange.)

    The north/south priority (Christchurch Northern Corridor over QEII Drive) was chosen as it is a less complicated layout for users and provides the best traffic performance for through traffic into the City. It does not require as much land, it uses the existing alignment of QEII Drive and it keeps the Christchurch Northern Corridor further away from adjacent housing than other options that were considered.

    The Christchurch Northern Corridor will then go through Cranford Basin and connect into Cranford Street via a new roundabout.

  •   Where is access to the Christchurch Northern Corridor provided?

    QEII Drive

    • The Christchurch Northern Corridor will go over QEII Drive on a bridge and full access will be possible to QEII Drive via on and off-ramps and roundabouts below the bridge (similar to the Southern Motorway/Curletts Road interchanges).
    • Access will be provided from Winters Road west to the QEII Drive west roundabout.

    Belfast Road (via south facing ramps)

    • South facing on and off-ramps at Belfast Road will allow northbound traffic to exit at Belfast Road and access for traffic wishing to head south from Belfast Road towards the city.


    • Just south of the Waimakariri Bridge southbound Northern Motorway driver will have the choice of veering left onto the Christchurch Northern Corridor or continuing on SH1 via the Western Belfast Bypass or exiting onto Main North Road.

    Cranford Street

    • Drivers will use a roundabout on Cranford Street to enter or exit the Christchurch Northern Corridor.