Two stretches of road in central Christchurch have permanently closed, and other temporary closures are causing traffic chaos.
The first road closures for the city’s long-awaited $473 million multi-use Arena have come into effect.
It will seat 25,000 for major sporting events and concerts – but isn’t scheduled to be finished until 2024.
Christchurch City Council has closed Cashel and Lichfield streets between Madras and Barbadoes streets so lights, power and internet cables, and underground service pipes can be removed or rerouted before early works begin.
The right-hand lanes of Barbadoes and Madras streets have also been closed temporarily, between Tuam and Hereford streets, with no word yet on when they will reopen.
Council vertical capital delivery manager Alistair Pearson said drivers regularly using Cashel and Lichfield streets will need to travel down either Tuam or Hereford streets.
The lane closures on Barbadoes and Madras streets could also affect traffic congestion at peak hours, he said.
“We acknowledge this could be an inconvenience to people, but we need to close these roads in order to progress the incredible asset that the Canterbury multi-use arena will be for Christchurch.”
Pearson said the closed stretches of Cashel and Lichfield streets were unlikely to reopen.
Shortly before 9am Hereford St was in disarray, with cars backed up from Fitzgerald St to Latimer Square.
Drivers could be observed having to merge into turning lanes by the Transitional Cathedral blindly, unable to see if there was any oncoming traffic in the other lane.
Christchurch City Missioner Matthew Mark, who is based at the night shelter on Hereford street, said no-one from council let them know about the closures beforehand.
He did not expect it to be a significant safety issue.
“We’re not really seeing any negative impacts so far, there’s just a slight delay with some of our deliveries.”
Mark said was confident the arena would become an asset for Christchurch.
“It might have a bit of an impact in terms of noise, but hopefully we’ll be able to enjoy the concerts vicariously with our whānau.”