Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the opening of two temporary bridges on the alternate state highway route between Picton and Christchurch will improve safety and reduce travel times while repairs to State Highway 1 are underway.

The new Bailey bridges (temporary steel structures) have been installed alongside permanent one-way bridges at Upper Buller and Homestead Creek west of St Arnaud, allowing traffic to flow safely in both directions at all times.

This will eliminate delays from waiting to use the single-lane bridges at these two locations, keeping all traffic moving.

“The alternate state highway route has been coping with a significant increase in traffic volumes since the November 14 Kaikoura earthquake. This is putting the road under a good deal of strain, and providing duplicate bridges at these three pinch points will help to improve safety and reduce delays for everyone using the road,” Mr Bridges says.

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

“Installing these new bridges is part of the Transport Agency’s broader programme of work to ensure the alternate route can stay open and safely cope with the extra traffic it is carrying while work continues on State Highway 1.”

A third duplicate Bailey bridge has also been installed at Speargrass Creek, and will open to traffic later this month.

State Highway 1 is expected to be restored within the next 12 months.

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