By DAVID HILL
Steady progress is being made to repair road access to Kaikoura.
Repair work in the Hundalee south of Kaikoura to replace a series of earthquake-damaged retaining walls along this 55km stretch of State Highway 1 between Cheviot and Oaro is ongoing.
The November 2016 earthquake left the Hundalee with significant damage to the shoulders of the road and retaining walls, safety barriers were twisted and crumpled while sections of the road crumbled, the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) alliance says.
Project engineer Richard Falloon says crews are working across 10 sites and things are going to get busier as the Christmas deadline to reopen SH1 north and south of Kaikoura gets closer.
“Crews are tackling the worst hit areas and we have a lot of work under way,” Richard says.
“We’re replacing 1km of gabion walls (stone baskets) where the edge of the road has crumbled, replacing four sections of damaged road, repairing and replacing storm water culverts and building seven new king post retaining walls.”
The king post retaining walls are being installed in the worst hit areas and the longest of these walls stretches 60 metres and is expected be completed at the end of October.
When complete it will have 34 king posts, Richard says.
“After drilling a 10 metre deep hole, we lower a large steel beam into it and this is encased in concrete to help to strengthen the edge of the road.”
Local resident Eliza Smith has spent the last two years living in the Hundalee area and says the crew has her full support.
“I think they are doing really well – it’s a big job, but they’re doing great,” Eliza says.
The Hundalee is a challenging place to work. Steep banks drop down from the edge of the road, right where the crew needs to work, NCTIR says.
Before the permanent repairs can begin, temporary repairs have to be carried out so heavy machinery can safely operate on the edge of the road.
Because the crew is sharing the highway with motorists the working space is narrower than Richard’s team would like.
This means they can’t use large excavators or other machinery. Relying on supplies from Kaikoura, such as metal for the road repairs, also means the crew have to juggle deliveries.
“With the road being shut Tuesday to Thursday we need to make sure we get our supplies delivered when the road is open,” Richard says.
The good news is that once finished, the road will be structurally sound and safer for the years ahead. New safety barriers will be installed at the right height and will be aligned with the road.