Coastal road reconnected fulltime
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.