Repairs to the quake-damaged State Highway 1 between Picton and Christchurch will receive an $812 million Budget boost, the government confirms.
Minister of Transport Simon Bridges announced on Thursday up to $812 million would be provided in next month’s national budget to repair the highway destroyed in the November earthquake.
The transport corridor of road and rail was still planned to reopen before the end of 2017, Bridges said.
“The Government’s priority is to restore the pre-earthquake transport links to Kaikoura and its surrounding communities, and ensure these vital links are resilient for the long term,” he said.
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“To make sure this work continues at pace, Budget 2017 will provide up to $812 million to reinstate State Highway 1 between Picton and Christchurch.”
Repairs to SH1 and the associated rail line along the coast north and south of Kaikoura was estimated in December to cost up to $2 billion.
The total cost to reinstate the road and rail corridor had been revised to be between $1.1 and $1.33b.
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“This is still a very large amount, and reflects there are a number of uncertainties when dealing with damage and destruction of this scale,” Bridges said.
“More than $45 million of work has already been completed since last November’s earthquake, including clearing slips and obstructions, undertaking geotechnical assessments, and reinstating rail track.”
The New Zealand Transport Agency would consider additional improvements to the coastal corridor which could see a further investment of up to $240 million from the National Land Transport Fund, Bridges added.
He said funding would also be provided over the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years for work to continue after the route reopens.
Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith said the announcement was fantastic news for the electorate.
“What this funding means for our constituents is the confidence that work on the road and rail corridor will continue at the same steady pace it has been to date,” he said.
“The sooner our road is restored, the sooner our local economies can bounce back.”
The budget would be released on May 25.