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christchurch northern corridor banner

Last updated: 6 April 2020

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, improve safety, reduce congestion, and  more walking and cycling options.

    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.

  •   How much will it cost to build and how is it funded?

    The construction of the project is expected to cost $290 million. This amount has increased from the figure announced at the end of 2016 when the project began because we have added new work into the CNC project. This work includes the additional southbound lane on the Waimakariri Bridge, the Clip-on cycle path on the Waimakariri Bridge, the extension of the cycle path from Empire Road to Tram Road, the additional work for the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV)/ Carpool lanes and the associated information technologies needed for this.

    The majority (about 87%) of the project is being funded by the NZ Transport Agency with funding from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) which is collected from fuel excise duty (FED), road user charges (RUC) and vehicle and driver registration and licensing charges. The rest of the project is being funded by the Christchurch City Council (CCC). However, not all this funding is from council rates, around 50% of the funding for the CCC section of the CNC project also comes from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF).

    The additional work on Cranford Street south of Innes Road and on surrounding streets is not part of the CNC Alliance project. This work is being managed and funded by the CCC. As with the majority of CCC roading projects, around 50% of this funding is also coming from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF).

  •   When will it be finished /open?

    We'll hope to have the Christchurch Northern Corridor motorway project all finished before Christmas 2020.

    Work on the new motorway and SH1 will take longer than originally expected due to the additional work on the Waimakariri Bridge (the extra southbound lane and the clip-on pedestrian and cycle path), the additional work to install the T2/Carpool lanes and because land settlement/consolidation has taken even longer than originally expected.

    We hope the work we are doing on local roads and QEII Drive will be finished by Mid-2020. This includes our work on Prestons, Radcliffe, Belfast, Guthries, Philpotts, Winters, Hills, Innes and Cranford. These roads will be free from CNC construction, traffic management and our road cones.

  •   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 April 2020.  Construction started with the relocation of services (power, water, and telecommunications) followed by storm water and kerb and channel renewals. The new road surface was laid in March 2020.

  •   Construction programme on QEII Drive?

    Work on QEII Drive started in late 2017 with the new eastbound lanes (on the north side of QEII Drive) being constructed.  We then move traffic over to these new lanes in early 2019 and started work on the westbound lanes (where the old QEII Drive was).  Construction of the QEII Bridge, double roundabouts and changes at the Innes Road Roundabout are also well underway.  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 commuters from North Canterbury and North Christchurch 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 traffic volumes on Main North Road (Redwood) in 2015 were 35,000, 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.

    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 along the route, extending bus lanes, and making changes to intersection configurations or even considering other public transport options. These changes will result in improved public transport journey times along Main North Road which is likely to make public transport more attractive.

  •   Will there be provisions for pedestrians and cyclists?

    A shared use off-road path is being constructed parallel to the Christchurch Northern Corridor from Tram Road to McFaddens Road.  The CNC Shared Use Path starts at the Tram Road/Main North Road intersection and runs parallel to the northern motorway.  A clip-on path on the Waimakariri Motorway Bridge will take pedestrians and cyclists over the Waimakariri River. The CNC Shared Use Path (SUP) then connects with Main North Road, Guthries Road, Belfast Road, Radcliffe Road, Prestons Road, QEII Drive, Grimseys Road, Winters 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 runs through the Cranford Basin and then 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.  A link is also being built to connect the CNC SUP to the Papanui Parallel cycle path.

    The shared use path will provide and link to safe travel options between North Canterbury and St Albans. Cycle facilities on QEII Drive will be improved as part of the QEII Drive four-laning and will connect to the CNC shared use path at Grimseys Road and Winters Road.

    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.

  •   Will the Christchurch Northern Corridor be elevated?

    Most of the Christchurch Northern Corridor will be constructed at or near ground level. Overbridges 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 most 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 some areas near housing. These will be like 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 limit 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. This was in part due to unfavourable ground conditions meaning that widening and upgrading the road would require significant ground improvement and future maintenance costs, and also to the large number of existing property accesses on to Marshland Road.  These roads and driveways 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 new forested wetland area is a separate project.  Work on the improved storm-water retention area is now finished. Turning this area into a forested wetland area with public walkways and other facilities is a 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. The third southbound lane which is planned to operate as a High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane or carpool lane during morning peak. The widening is being constructed on the inside of the existing bridges. A new clip-on cycleway is being constructed on the outside of the southbound bridge. This work will be completed at the end of 2019.

  •   Why does the project include operating a High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) or carpool lane on the CNC?

    The NZ Transport Agency recognises that a robust, long-term transport solution must include incentives for changing driver behaviour to increase vehicle occupancy and to make better use of infrastructure.

    The lanes encourage a more efficient use of infrastructure by moving more people in fewer vehicles.

    One of the ways to reduce congestion is to change transport user behaviour. If more people share vehicles, take buses or ride bikes the less cars will be on road.

  •   Were you always going to include a carpool lane, was it in the original plans?

    While the carpool lane was not part of the CNC project at the start of construction in late 2016, a corridor study in the same year put forward the idea of a carpool lane to manage ongoing traffic growth. The Canterbury Regional Transport Committee supported this idea in September 2017 as a variation to the Regional Land Transport Plan.

    The CNC Alliance, supported by the Greater Christchurch Partnership, agreed to include a third southbound lane and a clip-on cycleway as part of the project  in 2017. The CNC already had staff and equipment on site for the northbound widening so including the southbound widening made sense. Doing the work as part of the CNC project will be more cost effective, minimising impacts on the river and minimising disruption to users.

    In 2018 the NZ Transport Agency conducted an investigation into the safe operations of a southbound carpool lane and this led to funding for design and construction.

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

    The CNC motorway may attract some traffic that may otherwise have used Marshland Road or Papanui Road but the 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.  When the CNC opens in 2020 we expect the traffic volumes on Cranford Street to be about 34,000 vehicles per day.

    The Christchurch City Council has further improvements planned for Cranford Street from Innes Road to the CBD and other local roads in this area.  These plans include, changes to Cranford Street to allow for clearways or a bus lane, upgrading some intersections and discouraging the use of residential streets as short cuts. This work should get underway in early 2020.

  •   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 in house 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: [PDF, 6.8 MB]

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

    Since the Western Belfast Bypass has opened congestion 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 once the CNC is open:

    • 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 Northern Motorway. 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 like the 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.

    This video shows how to use the QEII interchange.

    How to use the QEII interchange.

  •   Where is access to the Christchurch Northern Corridor provided?

    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 and Lyttelton Port. The southbound ramps at Belfast were pencilled in during consultation. As soon as the rezoning of the Belfast commercial area was finalised it was agreed that the southbound ramps at Belfast Road should be included in the CNC construction project.

    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.


      • 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.
  •   What is an alliance and who is in it?

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

    A project alliance is a single contract taking the project from 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 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.