Rockfall protection a southern hemisphere first

Artist’s impression of how the canopy will look once completed.
Artist’s impression of how the canopy will look once completed.

Work to install permanent rockfall protection along Kaikōura’s rockfall-prone corner between Peketa and the Parititahi Tunnels, south of the town, will start in July and continue for six months.

A six-metre high canopy will be installed, to redirect falling rock away from the road and road users, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says. 

There will be significant delays for road users while this work is under way – up to 35 minutes on weekdays, 9am to 5pm, for the first month of work.

Waka Kotahi NCTIR (North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance) manager Colin Kraggs said: “Other rock protection measures nearby include a draped mesh fence and barriers."

“The safety of road users is our priority and with NCTIR wrapping up its earthquake repair programme this year, we need to get this project under way and completed by Christmas. With more than 70 recorded rockfall incidents in the area since the 2016 earthquake, a permanent solution is needed to protect road users now and in the future.”

The canopy design, using rock protection netting to allow light through, is the first of its kind to be installed in the southern hemisphere. It was chosen in preference to other ways of protecting road users, for example, a tunnel, which would have cut off the sea views.

The first stage of the work, which starts on Monday July 6, includes rock scaling and milling the existing rock. This is necessary to make the area safe for people starting to work under the rockface.

The road will be closed for periods of 30-35min while crew work on the rock above the road, it will then be opened to clear traffic from both directions.

• Starting Monday July 6 for around four weeks (includes weather contingency), this work will take place between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.  Please factor in the additional half hour’s delay to your journey from July 6 to early August.
• After this time, the highway will be single lane for the canopy and other protection to be installed.

Later work at night, dates to come

There will be some night closures required when the 14 beams are being lifted and installed. This will require diversions onto the Lewis Pass route (SH7) or Route 70 the Inland Road via Waiau.

The longer journey along the east coast, including outside this new project area

If you are travelling between Picton and Christchurch, please allow at least 5.5 hours for this trip due to this work near Peketa and other worksites across the SH1 corridor due to the Kaikōura earthquake recovery work, says Waka Kotahi.

Currently there are a number of work crews widening the road seal on the north side of Kaikōura, with temporary traffic management and single lane Stop/Go access. There is also a single lane stop/go at the South Bay racecourse area for road reconstruction and realignment work.

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