Quake road re­build’s se­ri­ous spend

Marlborough Express - - NEWS - MICHAEL HAY­WARD

Re­build­ing the South Is­land’s quake-stricken high­way is cost­ing up to $65 mil­lion a month as the re­open­ing date looms.

Sec­tions of State High­way 1 to the north and south of Kaiko¯ura sus­tained se­ri­ous dam­age dur­ing last Novem­ber’s mag­ni­tude-7.8 earth­quake. They are due to re­open on De­cem­ber 15 af­ter a re­build ef­fort. Re­pair work is ex­pected to con­tinue through 2018.

The most re­cent fig­ures avail­able show the North Can­ter­bury Trans­port In­fra­struc­ture Re­cov­ery al­liance (NCTIR), which is re­build­ing the road, spent $351m on the work be­tween Jan­uary and the end of Septem­ber.

Since then spend­ing ramped up dra­mat­i­cally.

NCTIR ex­pects to spend about $1.2 bil­lion across the SH1 and ad­ja­cent rail re­pairs. This does not in­clude up­grades to the al­ter­na­tive route, the $231m SH1 up­grades pack­age an­nounced in July, nor the Kaiko¯ura har­bour re­build.

In Jan­uary, NCTIR’s spend on earth­works, sluic­ing, tem­po­rary re­pairs and rail re­pairs was $7.6m. In Septem­ber this jumped to nearly $60m. About 60 per cent of that cost went to­wards sea­wall con­struc­tion and coastal road

‘‘We’re try­ing to re­store the cor­ri­dor to pre-earth­quake con­di­tions, or bet­ter, as ef­fi­ciently as pos­si­ble.’’ Tim Crow, NCTIR earth­quake re­cov­ery man­ager

has re­align­ment, with the re­main­ing money pay­ing for struc­tures and re­pairs to ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

Earth­quake re­cov­ery man­ager Tim Crow said NCTIR spent about $60-65m a month for the last three months.

He said the dra­matic spend­ing in­crease was be­cause they went from de­signs and sys­tems at the start of the year, to hav­ing 1300 work­ers build­ing sea­walls and bridges. ‘‘I think it [the spend rate] is more than ap­pro­pri­ate for the amount of work we’ve com­pleted.’’

NCTIR was in a ‘‘lucky po­si­tion’’ as all the top of the South Is­land’s main con­trac­tors were in­volved and had all the re­sources they needed.

Crow said the re­build was ‘‘not look­ing to spend a bud­get’’.

‘‘We’re try­ing to re­store the cor­ri­dor to pre-earth­quake con­di­tions, or bet­ter, as ef­fi­ciently as pos­si­ble.’’

The spend­ing rate would slow down when the road re­opened to traf­fic, Crow said.

The high­way will re­open only dur­ing day­time hours with un­sealed sec­tions, lane clo­sures and stop-go traf­fic con­trol. Some tem­po­rary day clo­sures were pos­si­ble. Mo­torists are ad­vised to al­low five-and-a-half hours to drive the coastal route be­tween Pic­ton and Christchurch, an hour less than the al­ter­na­tive in­land route.

Its clo­sure costs the freight in­dus­try an es­ti­mated $2.7 mil­lion in ad­di­tional ex­penses each week and dropped the an­nual tourism spend in Kaiko¯ura by nearly half, tak­ing $63m from the re­gion.

Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion (AA) Can­ter­bury/West Coast District Coun­cil chair­man Roy Hughes ex­pected trav­ellers to ‘‘pro­gres­sively’’ re­vert to us­ing SH1.

‘‘With the im­prove­ments NZTA has made to the in­land route ... it’s pos­si­ble it will con­tinue to have slightly more use than it did be­fore the quake.’’

Hughes said the in­land route and the new SH1 would be safer as a re­sult of the un­planned in­vest­ment, which would pro­vide last­ing ben­e­fits.

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