Great job on road­ing but Kaik­oura still needs help

The Press - - Business - PETER TOWNSEND ❚ Peter Townsend is the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Can­ter­bury Em­ploy­ers’ Chamber of Com­merce.

OPIN­ION: Re­cently I took a road trip from Christchurch through to Kaik­oura via State High­way 1 and then back through the in­land Kaik­oura road to Christchurch.

The pur­pose of my trip was to see the con­di­tion of the roads and look at those fun­da­men­tal is­sues of con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween Christchurch and Kaik­oura.

The Kaik­oura sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent to the af­ter­math of the Christchurch earth­quakes.

The sin­gle big­gest is­sue for Kaik­oura is its iso­la­tion and the fact that with­out good con­nec­tiv­ity tourist busi­nesses, in par­tic­u­lar, suf­fer badly. The com­mu­nity gen­er­ally is op­er­at­ing at sig­nif­i­cantly less than half of its nor­mal eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity.

This is putting pres­sure on busi­nesses and re­in­forces the need to en­sure Kaik­oura is ef­fec­tively re­con­nected to the rest of New Zealand as soon as pos­si­ble.

How­ever, there is good news. I was re­ally im­pressed with the qual­ity of SH1 and the enor­mous amount of re­pair work that has been car­ried out since the Novem­ber earth­quakes.

The road through to Che­viot and then to Par­nas­sus (with a de­vi­a­tion at Par­nas­sus be­cause of the dodgy ap­proach to an over­bridge) is in good con­di­tion.

I was par­tic­u­larly im­pressed with the road through the Hun­dalee Hills. That has al­ways been an es­sen­tial but chal­leng­ing piece of high­way and it is a great credit to the road crews that it stood up rel­a­tively well and, more im­por­tantly, that they have car­ried out sig­nif­i­cant re­me­di­a­tion work.

It is an easy drive through to Oaro. It is hard to be­lieve that so much dam­age to our roads could have been re­paired so quickly.

The only ob­vi­ous signs of how the roads moved are the guard rails that are still very much where they moved to in the earth­quakes – that is, lit­er­ally all over the place.

Trav­el­ling from Oaro to Kaik­oura is also not dif­fi­cult. There are only a few kilo­me­tres of one-way road and a sin­gle tun­nel that im­pedes some traf­fic flows.

Given the enor­mity of the earth­quake and the amount of rock and rub­ble that fell onto our road sys­tems in Novem­ber the work that is be­ing done to get them back into ac­tion is quite re­mark­able.

We should ap­plaud those in­volved in get­ting the job done quickly and ef­fi­ciently.

As the re­pairs are car­ried out the for­ma­tion of a pro­posed Coastal Pa­cific Trail for tramp­ing and cy­cling should be se­ri­ously con­sid­ered.

The Kaik­oura in­land road has been the sub­ject of an ex­tra­or­di­nary feat of en­gi­neer­ing. It is fully ne­go­tiable, al­beit with some speed re­stric­tions and some work in progress.

The earth­quake had the force in Hu­runui to Kaik­oura to throw heavy cast-iron stoves across farm­houses and through walls.

It caused se­ri­ous dam­age to al­most 100 farm­houses in the Hu­runui-Ly­ford area.

How­ever, the road is ne­go­tiable and it is a spec­tac­u­lar vista of the power of na­ture.

We now will see full con­cen­tra­tion on get­ting SH1 ac­ces­si­ble from Kaik­oura through to Picton, and I hope that that goal is achieved well be­fore Christ­mas.

That will en­able Kaik­oura and other towns to get back to nor­mal busi­ness.

In the mean­time, we must en­sure that af­fected busi­nesses are well sup­ported.

The in­land road has been the sub­ject of an ex­tra­or­di­nary feat of en­gi­neer­ing.

The re­cently dredged slip­way at South Bay, Kaik­oura, is one of many re­pair jobs un­der way since Novem­ber’s earth­quake.

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