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Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquake damaged roads causing Christchurch gridlock

Earthquake damaged roads causing Christchurch gridlock

Last updated 05:00 11/03/2011

Quake-damaged Christchurch is dealing with another nightmare – traffic gridlock.

Traffic jams caused by blocked and damaged roads and a lack of buses are adding up to an hour to car trips around Christchurch.

The cost of the delays is adding dollars to already soaring fuel bills.

Peak-time snarls are particularly bad in the city's west. Motorists face long delays on Wairakei, Blighs, Northcote and Curletts roads, while Brougham and Clarence streets and Harper Ave are also very slow.

Johns Rd in Harewood has turned into a bumper-to-bumper thoroughfare for much of the day.

Advertising representative David Bately said it had taken him an hour to drive from Merivale to his Hoon Hay home at 5pm on Wednesday.

"Overall, I reckon the drivers are pretty well-behaved, except when lights change from green to red. They just keep coming and often block the intersection completely, so when it's your turn to go, you cannot move. This is causing gridlock," he said.

"I suppose the current congestion is just one of those things we have to accept until the CBD is open to traffic again."

Civil Defence operations manager Alan Beuzenberg said the heavy congestion was causing problems for service vehicles.

Cordons and blocked roads in the central city were forcing motorists to use roads ringing the city, he said.

Some traffic lights were still without power and the roads needed a lot of work.

He suggested driving outside the peak periods, using alternative routes and car pooling.

"It would also be nice to think motorists would allow service vehicles to go first," he said.

More bus services were expected to operate from today.

Red Bus chief executive Paul McNoe hoped more people would use the buses.

"There's no doubt they make a difference to congestion," he said.

People were not travelling as much and the lack of a central-city destination had dampened bus patronage, he said.

Additional bus services:

No 3 via Ferry Rd. The service will stop at Settlers Cres in Ferrymead and it will not go on to Sumner.
No5 via Pages Rd will stop at New Brighton. It will not run to South Shore.
No14 via Colombo St and up Dyers Pass Rd to the Sign of the Takahe.
No28 to Lyttelton via the tunnel.

Two airport services: No10 via Papanui Rd and Harewood Rd; No29 via Fendalton Rd and Memorial Ave.

Services are already operating for northern routes and for western/southern routes between 7am and 7pm, seven days a week.

The Metrostar and the Orbiter services are running.

The northern services will operate from a Bealey Ave terminus (between Durham St north and Montreal St).

The western and southern services are operating from a terminus near Christchurch Hospital, on Hagley Ave between St Asaph St and Riccarton Ave).

A shuttle is operating between the Christchurch Hospital terminus and Bealey Ave so people can transfer between routes.

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