Road users used to battling potholes, road cones and traffic congestion got to enjoy a taste of tarseal luxury yesterday with the opening of the Barrington St overbridge.
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee officially opened the overbridge - the first of several stages of the new Christchurch Southern Motorway to be opened over the next four months - before it was opened to traffic about 10am.
New Zealand Transport Agency spokesman Bob Nettleton said the 10km long, $145 million four-lane motorway was one of the biggest projects of its type in the South Island.
"The new Barrington St bridge is significant because it is the first of the mainline motorway bridges to be opened to traffic. It is also the first milestone in the new construction season that will see, over the next four months, various stages of the new motorway opened to road users."
Fulton Hogan startes work on the project in March 2010 and despite the earthquakes the motorway would be officially opened in the next four to six months, he said.
The Barrington St Interchange was one of the first work areas on the current project with clearing and stone column trials in February 2010. There was also extensive noise and vibration monitoring undertaken in these methodology trials to minimise the impact on surrounding property.
"We installed approximately 450 stone columns under the Barrington St bridge abutments to lessen the risk of potential liquefaction in the event of an earthquake. These ranged in depth from eight to 12 metres and in total length add up to about five kilometres of columns."
The project would relieve current traffic congestion on the state highway network, he said.
"It also represents a significant environmental improvement for the surrounding community as traffic is moved to the new carriageway and away from parks, housing and walking and cycling facilities.
The motorway would provide a safer, more efficient and reliable route between the central city, Lyttelton Port and southwest Christchurch, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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