Sumner Rd project delayed for two months

CLOSED: Sumner Rd, which links Lyttelton to Sumner, has been closed since the earthquakes.
CLOSED: Sumner Rd, which links Lyttelton to Sumner, has been closed since the earthquakes.

The city council is putting on hold its project to get Sumner Rd reopened for up to two months. 

During that time it may reconsider its plans for the critical route, which links Sumner through to the port of Lyttelton. 

Sumner Rd, between Evans Pass Rd and Summit Rd, has been closed to all traffic since the February 2011 earthquake because unstable rocks and slopes have made it too dangerous to use. 

The road's closure has been a major blow to the Lyttelton Port Company and transport operators as it is the preferred route to and from the port for oversized trucks and vehicles carrying dangerous goods. 

Dangerous goods vehicles are not permitted through the road tunnel unless it is closed to all other traffic, while oversized vehicles cannot use the tunnel unless the opposing traffic lane is closed.

Before the quakes the tunnel was closed four or five times a month; now it is closing about 300 times a month. 

The previous council committed to reopening Sumner Rd but decided it would only reinstate it to its pre-quake condition - a project that is expected to cost about $40 million. 

That decision was endorsed last month by the new council and consultation was due to get underway with affected land owners about the work that was planned to mitigate the geotechnical hazards. 

That work was to involve blasting and scaling at either end of the road and major earthworks in the form of benches in the central section, which included the 100-metre high Crater Rim bluffs. 

But at a council meeting today, council chief executive Dr Karleen Edwards advised the project needed to be put on hold because information about better options or alternatives had come to hand.

Staff wanted the opportunity to review that information and if necessary bring some changes to the project to councillors for approval. Councillors agreed to delay the project for up to two months. 

Fairfax Media