Transport Minister Simon Bridges says a major milestone has been reached this week in the Government’s effort to restore road and rail links to Kaikoura, with work crews estimating that the half-way point has been reached in the massive job of clearing the slips from the transport corridor north of Kaikoura.

“This is good news not only for Kaikoura but also for the rest of New Zealand as work progresses at pace to restore the road and rail networks that are critical to supporting our economy, keeping these communities connected and boosting the prosperity of this region,” Mr Bridges says.

North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) teams have now cleared five of the ten large landslides that buried parts of State Highway 1 and the rail line north of Kaikoura in the November 2016 earthquake.

“NCTIR earthworks teams have been working long hours, seven days a week, to get to this point, completely removing giant slips that fell near Mangamaunu, Irongate stream and Half Moon Bay during November’s quake,” Mr Bridges says.

“Given the size of those landslides, NCTIR crews are estimating that more than half of the total slip material has now been removed from the transport corridor north of Kaikoura.

“The work crews are making good progress and is a testament to the huge effort they are putting in, while ensuring a safe and coordinated approach is employed for moving the large numbers of workers, machinery and trucks within the narrow ribbon of land between cliffs and the sea,” Mr Bridges says.

Mr Bridges says the good progress over recent months has also been made possible by the significant amount of work making the slip sites safe and stable earlier this year, with engineers and work crews sluicing the slips by helicopter, to ensure that rapid progress could be made once on-site clearance work began.

“Throughout this entire process the work crews have followed a programme that will protect the environment and cultural values of the area, while ensuring that we can deliver a more resilient and safer transport network,” Mr Bridges says.

“The NCTIR crews are hugely appreciative of the patience and understanding of local residents and businesses who are affected by the ongoing closure and frequent movement of work trucks in the area as work continues.”

Mr Bridges says based on current progress crews remain on track to restore the pre-earthquake transport links to Kaikoura and its surrounding communities by Christmas.

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