$60 million safety upgrade underway for alternate South Island state highway route

  • Simon Bridges

Transport Minister Simon Bridges says work is ramping up on a $60 million investment programme to upgrade the alternate state highway route between Picton and Christchurch while the reconstruction of State Highway 1 through Kaikoura is underway.

”The Government’s investment in the alternate route includes a range of road improvements to make the route safer and more resilient,” Mr Bridges says.

“Several sections of the route have been widened and 36 kilometres of the route has been resealed or repaired to help the road cope with the increase in traffic, with a further 22 kilometres to be resealed before winter.

“Three new bailey bridges have also been installed alongside permanent one-way bridges at Upper Buller and Homestead Creek west of St Arnaud and Speargrass Creek allowing traffic to flow safely in both directions.” Mr Bridges says.

Speeds have been reduced in high risk areas, with a strong Police presence on the route to help manage driver behaviour and speeds.

“Traffic numbers on the route have increased by more than four times since the Kaikoura earthquake in November. The Government is focussed on making the route as safe and easy to use as possible,” Mr Bridges says.

Mr Bridges says on top of the improvements already made to the route, the NZ Transport Agency is now focussing on preparing the Lewis Pass route to safely cope with higher volumes of traffic this winter.

“While work is continuing at pace to restore State Highway 1 through Kaikoura between Picton and Christchurch, it’s vital we ensure that people can travel safely on the alternate route through Murchison and the Lewis Pass.”

Other measures to improve safety along the route include:

  • A short range cell site is being installed at Boyle River in April to improve mobile phone coverage.
  • Traffic signals have been installed on the one-lane Maruia Bridge to ensure travellers in both directions can cross safely.
  • Six radars measuring traffic volume and speed have been installed along the route. The radars also differentiate between vehicle sizes and can determine how many cars or larger vehicles are travelling at any given time.

Webcams have been installed in the above areas along with Waipara and Blenheim. The images are used on social media to provide travel updates.

State Highway 1 along the Kaikoura Coast is expected to be open by the end of 2017. For more information go to: http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/kaikoura-earthquake-response/