Opening of SH1 ‘a big step forward’
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.