Open­ing of SH1 ‘a big step for­ward’

Kaikoura Star - - FRONT PAGE - STU­ART SMITH, KAIKO¯URA MP

The open­ing of State High­way 1 for 24 hours a day is an­other sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward for our re­cov­er­ing east coast and par­tic­u­larly for Kaiko¯ura.

Reach­ing this point has re­quired a huge amount of work by road­ing crews through­out some truly ad­verse con­di­tions in­clud­ing of course two sig­nif­i­cant ex-cy­clone events, par­tic­u­larly Gita.

Not only is hav­ing SH1 open around the clock great news for mo­torists, it’s also an­other pos­i­tive for the economies of com­mu­ni­ties who rely on the high­way for their liveli­hoods, and of course it’s fan­tas­tic for the Kaiko¯ura tourism in­dus­try.

With­out a daily dead­line to get through the sec­tion of road un­der con­struc­tion, more vis­i­tors will be en­cour­aged to drive the coastal route, which in it­self is an in­ter­est­ing at­trac­tion and cer­tainly no less beau­ti­ful than be­fore the quake.

For Kaiko¯ura vis­i­tors and lo­cals alike, par­tic­u­larly busi­ness own­ers, hav­ing nor­mal ac­cess to Christchurch and Marl­bor­ough will, I’m sure, re­lieve a lot of pres­sure.

No­body will miss the line of cars at the road blocks early in the morn­ing.

Reach­ing this point has meant a phe­nom­e­nal ef­fort from all in­volved, and I take my hat off to those who made it hap­pen.

To have this re­gion’s trans­port in­fra­struc­ture back to some- thing re­sem­bling nor­mal is some­thing quite ex­tra­or­di­nary.

I have trav­elled this stretch of coast­line of­ten since the Novem­ber 2016 earth­quake, ini­tially by air and then by road when pos­si­ble, and have seen these crews achieve what seemed at the time to be mis­sion im­pos­si­ble.

The sheer scale of the slips – 700,000 cu­bic me­tres of de­bris - that they had to re­move, the hill­sides they had to bring un­der con­trol, sluice, blast, even ab­seil to move de­bris by hand, was quite stag­ger­ing, and it was some­thing that no pho­to­graph was truly able to do jus­tice.

Cer­tainly, we’re not to­tally there yet. Ar­eas of the road are still one-lane and un­sealed, and in win­ter we should ex­pect weather-re­lated road clo­sures.

But in the wake of an un­prece­dented nat­u­ral dis­as­ter, we have come to reach yet an­other ma­jor mile­stone and that is some­thing to be proud of.

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