Calls for safer route after truck crash

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2014

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A truck crash that closed the only road between Governors Bay and Rapaki for more than 11 hours has prompted renewed calls for a safer route for truck drivers leaving Lyttelton Port.

Driver Shane Reardon was not injured in the crash that happened just north of Governors Bay about noon yesterday, but two cranes were needed to remove his toppled truck and the 65-tonne digger it was carrying from the road.

Governors Bay Rd is open this morning for light vehicles, but police said it would stay closed to heavy vehicles because of concerns over the road's stability.

It is not known how long the heavy vehicle restriction will remain in place.

Reardon told The Press he was still "trying to get over what's happened". He believed he was travelling about 15kmh at the time of the crash and said the steep camber of the road toppled his trailer. "I watched [the trailer] disappear out of my view. I'm just glad it didn't go over the edge."

His boss at Jacksons Cranes and Heavy Haulage was following in a pilot vehicle and watched the crash.

Reardon said he was looking forward to getting home to Timaru and seeing his family.

The route was a tricky one for truck drivers because of the sharp corners and high gradients, but was the only option for many transporting goods from Lyttelton, he said.

Most trucks were able to travel through the Lyttelton tunnel, but until Sumner Rd reopened - linking Lyttelton and Sumner via Evans Pass - petrol tankers were allowed through the tunnel only at night and oversize vehicles were forced to travel through Governors Bay and Gebbies Pass.

Lyttelton Port of Christchurch chief executive Peter Davie said the port wanted to see Sumner Rd reopened as soon as possible. The road had been closed since the February 2011 earthquake, when it was badly damaged by rockfall.

"We've been working with the council on that for a period of time," he said. "From our point of view, it is council's responsibility. We'd like it to move forward."

Davie considered the route to be the safest for oversize vehicles and petrol tankers. Dyers Pass was too steep and about double the height of the other routes, and even Gebbies Pass posed a challenge.

The Christchurch City Council was unable to provide an update on Sumner Rd yesterday, but last year council road corridor operations manager Paul Burden said it was unlikely to reopen before 2015.

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- The Press

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