The Kaikoura inland road (route 70) will open for unrestricted use next week, providing a two-way road link in and out of Kaikoura for the first time since the earthquakes.
Crews have worked relentlessly for the past five weeks to make the severely damaged road safe for general use. This includes clearing the road of more than 50 slips, stabilising slopes, repairing damage and building an entirely new diversion road around the highly unstable Whalesback section of route 70.
The NZ Transport Agency now plans to fully open the road from Monday morning barring any major aftershocks or extreme weather over the weekend.
“From the day of the earthquake our number one priority has been re-establishing access to Kaikoura and getting this inland route open next week is a major breakthrough,” says Transport Minister Simon Bridges.
“The Government remains committed to reconnecting all communities in the area and getting the region back on its feet as quickly as possible, and this will mark another important step in that process.”
While the inland road is planned to be open from Monday, there will be speed restrictions and traffic control in place as work is continuing on many sections of the road.
Crews were continuing to work to clear slips and stabilise slopes on State Highway 1 south of Kaikoura, and work was also underway on SH1 north of Kaikoura to allow access for residents and to prepare for the huge job of clearing several massive slips blocking the road.
“Restoring reliable access to Kaikoura from the south will come as a huge relief to residents and businesses in the region, and importantly it will allow visitors to come to town and enjoy the local hospitality during the holidays,” says Bridges.
This follows the Government’s announcement to provide up to $2 billion to reinstate the entire state highway coastal route to Kaikoura. The existing State Highway 1 and rail corridor along the coastal route to the north and south of Kaikoura will be rebuilt, with additional improvements to increase safety and resilience.
The NZTA continues to repair and maintain the alternative state highway road for vehicles travelling through the Springs Junction and Lewis Pass route while work to reinstate SH1 progresses.