Coastal road re­con­nected full­time

Kaikoura Star - - FRONT PAGE - STUFF

Kaiko¯ura mayor Win­ston Gray is cel­e­brat­ing the round-the­clock open­ing of State High­way 1 be­tween Pic­ton and Christchurch, al­most a year and a half since the Novem­ber 2016 earth­quake.

He said the road be­ing open 24/7 would al­low lo­cals to travel to Christchurch with ease, and en­cour­age tourists back into the town­ship, and meant peo­ple want­ing to pass through could leave work in the evening, stop for din­ner and still make it to their des­ti­na­tion, he said.

‘‘It was hard be­cause if you had a meet­ing at 9am in Christchurch, it be­came a real chal­lenge and you had to leave [Kaiko¯ura] around 5am, so this is a huge im­prove­ment there.’’

He said given the enor­mity of the dam­age he was pleased with the time­frame, but ac­knowl­edged there was still a lot to do. It was es­pe­cially pleas­ing that there had been ob­vi­ous ‘‘in­terim progress’’ mark­ers, in­clud­ing the main thor­ough­fare open­ing to day traf­fic in De­cem­ber for sum­mer tourists, he said.

‘‘If that hadn’t hap­pened we would be a very sorry look­ing town ... we had a re­ally great sum­mer, and now, we’re head­ing into win­ter so they’ll ob­vi­ously be less busy but it’s still a real plus to get it all open.’’

In a state­ment, the New Zealand Trans­port Agency (NZTA) said open­ing the se­verely dam­aged road was a ‘‘huge mile­stone’’.More than 1000 men and women worked to re­pair the quake-dam­aged high­way and rail route when the earth­quake trig­gered slips and dumped more than 700,000 cu­bic me­tres of ma­te­rial – rock, soil and shin­gle – onto the road.

Prob­lems were ex­ac­er­bated when wild weather, in­clud­ing ex-cy­clone Gita, lashed the re­gion, leav­ing it drenched and dam­aged with fur­ther de­bris sprawled onto al­ready cleared sec­tions of road. An NZTA spokesper­son said work on parts of the road would con­tinue, and heavy rain could prompt clo­sures, but for now it was open for busi­ness.

A car trav­el­ling on the re­paired State High­way 1.

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