Last Friday the NZTA finally reopened the section of State Highway north of Kaikoura. It was immediately clear after the earthquakes that the repair was going to be a huge job and it’s taken one year, one month and one day just to get to this point. This comes after the rail line was partially reopened a few months ago. All up an impressive achievement.
For both modes there’s still a lot of work to be done and by the time it’s all finished, it is expected to cost $1.2 billion (some of which comes from insurance). That would make it one of the largest transport projects in New Zealand.
And this video gives some more details and numbers on it all
As disruptive and costly as the earthquake has been, it has likely played a useful role in highlighting the value of rail along the corridor. Kiwirail say that even with their limited re-opening of the line for the last few months that they’ve moved over 67,000 tonnes of freight and that it has meant about 4,500 fewer truck journeys on the alternate road route.
I do wonder if what has been achieved should raise questions about other projects. As they note in the video, a project of the scale of what’s been achieved would usually take years of planning before any dirt was moved. Compare that to Auckland’s much needed Eastern Busway. Auckland Transport are now into their 8th year of existence and it’s a project all agencies and political parties have supported yet progress has been glacial. Granted, most projects like busways will often require buying land have other issues that need to be resolved but working out how we can get projects delivered faster will be crucial if we’re to make an inroad into our infrastructure debt.