Fatal crash near Springs Junction raises concerns about quake route

A truck lies in a ditch off the side of State Highway 65 after a fatal crash on Wednesday morning.
SUPPLIED

A truck lies in a ditch off the side of State Highway 65 after a fatal crash on Wednesday morning.

The fragility of the South Island's new main highway was highlighted when it was closed for at least 12 hours following a fatal truck crash.

One person died and a man in his 20s was flown to hospital with moderate injuries after the crash on State Highway 65 on Wednesday morning. 

Two trucks were involved in the collision 9.5 kilometres north of Springs Junction, just before 10am.

The road remained closed until at least 10pm, adding an extra 47kms to the detour between Christchurch and Picton that had been used since the November 14 earthquake closed SH1 .

The new inland route from Christchurch to Picton runs on State Highways 1, 7, 65, 6 and 65.
CHRIS SKELTON/FAIRFAX NZ

The new inland route from Christchurch to Picton runs on State Highways 1, 7, 65, 6 and 65.

READ MORE:
Pressure builds on alternative State Highway 1
Traffic on SH7 expected to quadruple while SH1 is repaired 
Earthquake 2016: Remote sleepy towns now on busy highway

The road where the crash happened was part of the bypass route – comprising state highways 63, 65, 6 and 7, through the Lewis Pass – since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake caused multiple slips and damage to coastal SH1. 

SH1 is not expected to reopen for several months, while ongoing roadworks are expected for its alternative.

Marlborough roading authority, Marlborough Roads, has been told to prepare for three years of maintenance on State Highway 63.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges shot down any suggestion that meant SH1 would be out of action for three years, but declined to provide a precise estimate.

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) listed 11 moderate and six major slips between Kaikoura and Ward, creating a complex repair job.

"It's a . . . major job given the size of the slips and the complexity of what we're dealing with geographically," Bridges said.

Ad Feedback

"That being said, I don't think it's anywhere like three years. I think it's a period of many months but I'm loathe to put a more precise timeframe on it because I want to be realistic."

The Government has already committed between $50 million and $100m to maintain and upgrade the inland route from Christchurch to Picton.

Residents on the affected highways have raised concerns about the effect the unprecedented level of traffic will have on road surfaces, and whether it could lead to more crashes and safety issues.

Isolated sections of the route, parts of which were located a considerable distance from the nearest emergency service stations, have also been cause for concern. 

NZTA regional performance manager Pete Connors said all drivers using the alternative state highway route must use extra caution, with the journey taking a minimum of seven-and-a-half hours to complete.

"This [is a] longer and more challenging route which is now carrying significantly higher amounts of traffic."

Traffic numbers through St Arnaud on SH63 have more than tripled, with an average of 1230 vehicles – including 400 trucks – using the road each day. Traffic volumes along SH7 have increased by about 40 per cent.

Connors said police had increased patrols and enforcement activity along the route, and NZTA was working to make the roads safer.

Efforts included improving road surfaces, widening roads in some places, installing extra safety and directional signs, and providing more opportunities for rest stops.

Murchison police Constable Matt Elliott said the alternative highway route was not designed for high traffic flows like State Highway 1 was.

Police expected even higher traffic volumes on the routes over summer. There were infrequent passing bays and drivers should allow extra travel time and take frequent rest breaks, Elliott said.

"It no longer takes four hours to get from Murchison to Christchurch. It's a much longer trip. You might not be able to do 100kmh for the entire stretch."

Since the earthquakes, four extra highway patrol units were covering the area from the Lewis Pass to Murchison, and staff in Marlborough had refocused their police patrols to reflect the extra traffic, he said.

A Springs Junction petrol station manager said the volume of traffic coming through the route was already at levels usually seen only at the peak of the summer holidays.

Steve Templeton, workshop manager at GAS Lewis Pass, said since the earthquake there had been fewer crashes on the surrounding highway because the extra traffic meant cars were going slower.

There was potential for motorists' frustration to build during the upcoming holiday season when they were stuck behind trucks though.

"It is what it is, you have just got to drive to the conditions."

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

'The boy couldn't breathe' video

Video showed men masked and dressed in Mr Four Square costumes apparently attacking two teens on a train from Britomart ...

Two teens were on their way home for dinner when they were punched and kicked by a group of men dressed as Mr Four Square.

Big win for Blenheim

A million-dollar winner, but Powerball not struck.

Blenheim Lotto player strikes it lucky with $1m win.

Police investigate gay hate pastor

A police spokesman said "police are aware of [Robertson's remarks], and are taking it seriously".

Logan Robertson says gay couples marrying deserved a bullet in the head. Police say they're taking it seriously.

Boy in hospital

A 12-year-old boy was hit by a car in West Auckland.

A 12-year-old boy injured when hit by a car in West Auckland is in a serious condition in hospital.

Wellington

Brothel building for sale

Il-Bordello is on Vivian St.

"More bang for your buck" for this brothel building.

Missing teenager dead

Hastings teen Ariana Reedy, missing since Tuesday night, has been found dead.

The 15-year-old girl was last seen late at night on Napier's Bluff Hill.

Caution: Silly road names ahead

The Poplar Ave interchange on the Kapiti Expressway, in the middle of the shot. Hugging the hills is the old highway, ...

Not everyone took Kapiti's $100,000 consultation project entirely seriously.

Botany v bikes in bush battle video

160817 News Photos: Maarten Holl
From left, Chris Horne, Sunita Singh and Marg Pearce have co-signed a letter to the ...

Botanists fear Porirua's new mountain bike track will destroy a native reserve.

Canterbury

Scribe 'fighting addiction': family

Malo Ioane Luafutu, better known as Scribe, is wanted by Canterbury police for failing to appear in court and various ...

Scribe's family stand by the "teddy bear".

'Pushed to the edge' video

A car hit by snow at Mt Hutt.

Hennie Murray was among the thousands leaving Mt Hutt skifield when "everything turned white". Avalanche.

Police officer under investigation

Southern District Commander Superintendent Paul Basham confirmed an investigation was under way.

Constable allegedly sent inappropriate texts to woman who sought police assistance.

Road rage attack witnesses sought

Markus Scherrer claims he was punched in the face by another motorist

Witnesses sought after man claims he was punched in the face at a red light.

Waikato

Train festival steams into town

Nan Owen used to catch a train to work and to Auckland and Wellington to visit family.

Nan Owen will journey back in time this weekend with a ride on a steam train.

Iwi stalls bottling

An application to take 6.9m litres per day from the Blue Spring near Putaruru is on hold.

Raukawa's concerns put an application to bottle billions of litres from Putaruru's Blue Springs for export on hold.

Kick to woman's head rated

Robert Alexander Sargison, 63, was sentenced in the Hamilton District Court on Monday.

Robert Sargison sentenced to home detention and community work for enraged beating.

Two serious after crash

The person in the blue car was trapped and the roof had to be cut-off to remove them.

Three people have been injured in the crash on SH25.

Taranaki

Kids hailed for rescue video

Sarah and Charlie Strand and Frikkie du Preez from Hawera Intermediate School are being hailed as heroes.

Their own racing hearts didn't stop three intermediate students from helping an elderly woman in distress.

A very sick winter

Admissions to hospital for influenza hit a record high at Taranaki Base Hospital in July.

Getting sick in Taranaki has never been easier thanks to this year's influenza strain.

Life after suicide attempt

Nganeko Eriwata attempted suicide 11 years ago and now she is fighting to help educate people on prevention.

A suicide attempt spurred a woman to fight to stop others from getting to the same point.

Water rescue logged

A water rescue was launched for a log.

A water rescue was launched in Taranaki - but it was just a log.

Manawatu

Free ink offer draws crowds video

Jamee Mitchell's new tattoo.

An offer of free tattoos drew a line of keen punters staunchly queuing in winter downpours.

Support gathers

Graham Judd and Christina Drummond visit Te Manawa.

Te Manawa starts turning ideas for a $58m new building into plans.

Sudden death shocks

Ambulance staff alerted police to the woman's death on Wednesday morning.

Police are investigating the unexplained death of a woman at a Palmerston North flat.

Church confirms its vicar

All Saints vicar Nigel Dixon wants to ensure people come before buildings.

Transitional church leader Nigel Dixon has become a fixture at All Saints.

Nelson

From the cage to the stage video

Meg Cole, her daughter Ella Dols and their SPCA rescue cat Gypsy, who won numerous prizes at the Nelson Cat Show.

An SPCA "ball of fluff" rescue kitten ended up winning best in show at the Nelson Cat Show.

Ankle defence fails

Nelson Police "inadvertently" kept a man with a fractured ankle at the station, instead of getting him medical attention.

A man who claimed police broke his ankle arresting him for drink driving has failed to get his conviction overturned.

Smoke or steam?

Emissions from South Pine in Annesbrook, Nelson.

Richmond's air pollution has breached national air quality standards four times this year.

Darts event scores bullseye

09082017 SPORT PHOTO BRADEN FASTIER / STUFF
Morgan McDonald of Kaikoura plays in the NZ Darts Council national ...

The sharp end of Kiwi talent flocked to Motueka for the NZ Darts council nationals.

Marlborough

Teen killed in bridge crash

Marlborough 19-year-old George Holland died in a crash in Wairau Valley.

Man killed in crash between a truck and a ute in Wairau Valley was 19-year-old George Holland.

'Fury and the anger'

Some of the Blenheim residents opposing a proposed pyrolysis plant near an upmarket subdivision.

Council told it should have its backside kicked for letting the timber plant get this far.

State housing 'woefully inadequate'

Marlborough's ageing population is expected to put pressure on the region's social housing stock, report says.

Marlborough will need close to 800 state homes in 10 years as "housing-related poverty" balloons.

Kodi's first symphony

Kodi Rasmussen will make his debut as a conductor when his piece is performed by a full orchestra.

The floor is covered with scattered music scores and Kodi Rasmussen must resist any more changes.

South Canterbury

FastPost ... anything but

Veronica Fellows wants to know why it took six days for a birthday card she posted to her to her grandson to arrive.

Timaru woman Veronica Fellows questions why a birthday card took six days to travel 4km by post.

Hospital rebuild plan

South Canterbury District Health Board chief executive Nigel Trainor said it had decided to shift a planned ...

A proposal to partly redevelop Timaru Hospital has moved up a gear with plans now afoot to rebuild the facility.

Theft baffles council

All that remains of the toilet at Te Moana Gorge is a concrete pad.

A thief has stolen a toilet from a camping spot near Geraldine, after carefully unbolting it.

Clamping down on free-for-all

The building on Sophia St was inspected in March this year and found to be unsafe in the event of an earthquake. The ...

Council says people must stop snapping up reserved parks in earthquake-prone building.

Southland

'Chaotic' DHB department

The entrance to Dunedin Hospital.

Some patients have waited up to three years for a follow-up appointment due to dysfunction within a DHB department.

Cow neglect 'appalling'

Castlerock Dairies Limited and the managers who ran two farms were fined $60,000 in total in the Invercargill District ...

At least 193 cows on a Lumsden farm had to be euthanised in "one of the worst examples of long-term neglect".

Film festival growing in Gore

Theatre manager Peter Cairns at Gore's St James Theatre ahead of them hosting the New Zealand International Film ...

The Gore leg of the New Zealand International Film Festival is proving popular with Southland film buffs.

Missing runner found

A runner was missing for three-and-a-half hours in Southland before being tracked down by a search and rescue team on ...

A missing runner was found cold, but safe, after becoming lost with no cellphone battery.

Ad Feedback