Half of city's roads damaged
BEN HEATHER AND MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 05:00 09/04/2011
Half of Christchurch's 2000-kilometre road network will need repairs after being battered by February's earthquake.
Christchurch City Council transport operations manager Alan Beuzenberg said the earthquake had created about 38,000 cracks, slumps and lumps that would have to be repaired, not including the damage within the cordoned central city.
This compared with 1200 "recorded road defects" after the September earthquake.
The council had increased road crews by about tenfold since the quake, with 600 workers making safety repairs to about 1000km of quake-damaged roads.
With vehicles disappearing into sinkholes after the quake, the first priority was to make roads safe, Beuzenberg said.
"We are not fixing things permanently," he said.
So far, 90 per cent of the damaged arterial routes and 30 per cent of local roads had been made safe. Nearly all "make safe" repairs should be finished within two months, but permanent repairs would take at least a year.
Many roads would have to be dug up to replace sewerage and water pipes and they would be repaired after that.
Beuzenberg would not comment on the cost of road repairs, because the council was still in talks with the Government and its insurers.
"But this stuff needs to be fixed and we are getting on with it."
Beuzenberg advised people not to drive through large puddles, which could hide slumps or even sinkholes.
With damaged roads, the central city cordoned off and thousands of people displaced from the eastern suburbs, traffic congestion is a problem. But Beuzenberg said traffic flows had improved in the past fortnight.
"Two weeks ago, we had a gridlock situation. That has improved, but there are some roads that are still saturated."
Part of the problem was the central city's closure, with the central one-way traffic system normally carrying a huge proportion of cross-town traffic. The closure had pushed the burden on to the ring roads, such as Bealey and Fitzgerald avenues.
This would improve as some peripheral central-city roads reopened in the next few months, but drivers were difficult to predict.
"A road will be heavily congested one day and the next day it will be free."
The displacement of thousands of people meant they were spending more time commuting to work or to schools, placing further strain on the road network. This would ease as people returned to homes and quake-damaged schools reopened, Beuzenberg said.
Police will be enforcing 30kmh speed limits on earthquake-damaged roads in the eastern suburbs to prevent further deterioration.
Maps of the new speed limits can be found at http://canterburyearthquake.org.nz/reduced-speed-limits/
Mechanics busy with repairs
Christchurch mechanics are being kept busy as earthquake-damaged roads take their toll on cars.
Many garages have reported more punctures, wheel alignments, bent wheels and suspension repairs since the February 22 quake.
"There's heaps of it," Beaurepaires Moorhouse Ave store manager Brett Cowan said. "Bent rims, punctures, wheel alignments, ball joints that are getting stuffed – we're getting everything."
The business reopened on March 20 and Cowan said that by the end of the month it had done three-quarters of its usual monthly trade.
Mechanics in the centre and east of the city have noticed the biggest jump in trade, but demand is not limited to hard-hit parts of Christchurch.
John Taylor, of Tyres 2 Go in Sockburn, said punctures were a big problem.
- The Press