Highway closed two days next week

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State Highway 1 south of Kaikoura will be closed for two days next week to allow work crews to safely remove rocks and debris from the surrounding hillside.

The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery Alliance (NCTIR) will be sluicing several slips above the road on January 16 and 17, using helicopters and monsoon buckets to bring down rocks and debris so ground crews can move in to safely remove material from the railway tracks below.

NZ Transport Agency Earthquake Recovery Manager Steve Mutton says while the rocks are in a stable position, they are at risk of falling onto the highway below during an aftershock or a serious weather event.

“KiwiRail have an excavator and trucks ready to pick up rocks sitting on top of the railway tracks but until the material is removed from above it is not safe to do so.”

During the two day operation, scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday three sluicing helicopters and a ground crew will be bringing the rocks and debris down.

Mr Mutton says in order to ensure the safety of motorists, the NZ Transport Agency will be diverting traffic along the Inland Road (Route 70) while the sluicing work is being done.

As a result of the closure people travelling to and from Kaikoura should allow an extra hour travelling time.

Mr Mutton says this will be the third closure of State Highway 1 south of Kaikoura since Christmas, with two previous closures necessary after rockfalls caused by heavy rain.

Mr Mutton says while the NZ Transport Agency will do everything possible to minimise closures and disruptions, the conditions in the area and the work remaining to restore the route means that further temporary closures of SH1 will be necessary.

“Weather events are likely to continue to affect the stability of the hill faces for some time yet, and while we will aim to keep closures to a minimum, the safety of road users will always be our top priority.”

Mr Mutton says the NCTIR Alliance is aiming to fully reopen State Highway 1 north and south of Kaikoura by the end of the year.

Motorists can get real time information from:

•          0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49)

•          www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic(external link)