12 Feb 2017

Excavators onsite at SH1 slips

9:07 am on 12 February 2017

Work is set to begin next week to clear the largest slips blocking State Highway 1 between Kaikōura and Picton.

An aerial photo showing earthquake damage to State Highway 1 near Ohau Point.

An aerial photo showing earthquake damage to State Highway 1 near Ohau Point. Photo: AFP

Roads and rail lines along the route were severely damaged in the 7.8 magnitude earthquake last November.

Excavators are now onsite with work set to begin to clear the slip at Irongate, 1km north of Blue Duck Road, before tackling one of the largest slips at Ohau Point.

Minister of Transport Simon Bridges said he was confident there would be strong progress in the weeks ahead with crews working from both the north and south.

"This is good news not only for Kaikōura but also the rest of New Zealand as we begin to rebuild the road and rail networks that are critical to supporting our economy," Mr Bridges said.

Engineers and work crews have spent the last two months sluicing the slips by helicopter, allowing construction crews to now move onsite.

"I understand that people have been anxious to see this work get underway," he said.

The new transport network would be more resilient and safer, Mr Bridges said.

Transport Agency earthquake recovery manager Steve Mutton said enough room has been cleared now to allow the heavier machinery to work on the nine major slips blocking it.

The largest of the slips are more than 300m tall.

Mr Mutton said he understood the frustration of business owners affected by the months-long road and rail closures, but said opening the route was a big job.

Work is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

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