Christchurch City Council is digging deep to complete a complex road works project along Riccarton Road, which started this week.

Almost one kilometre of sewer pipe needs to be replaced, and it’s buried four metres below the road – very deep for sewer pipes, which means a lot of digging and about one metre of progress each day.

A visualisation of the sewer work along Riccarton Road.

Contractors working along Riccarton Road have to dig down four metres to replace the old sewer pipe.

“Replacing that much pipe at the depth is a big project by any measure, but when you’re digging up Christchurch’s second busiest road, you have another ball to juggle in terms of keeping traffic moving both ways and keeping access to all the open shops,” says Manager Planning and Delivery Transport Lynette Ellis.

“The sewer pipes are nearly 100 years old and at the end of their lifespan, so the work has to happen now if we want to avoid the pipes failing,” Ms Ellis says.

“We thought we’d take the opportunity to make quite a few other improvements to Riccarton Road that will leave the whole area much more vehicle- and pedestrian-friendly than it is.”

The Council is also replacing water mains under the road. Once the underground work is finished, the Council will rebuild the road and then widen it, creating bus priority measures and extra space for emergency vehicles, which struggle to get through Riccarton Road traffic at times.

“Riccarton Road has more than 800 bus movements a day and around 3000 passengers boarding here per weekday, so the bus priority measures will provide more reliable bus travel for a lot of people, especially at peak times when they need to get to work or home,” Ms Ellis says.

The bus priority measures being installed along Riccarton Road include sections of bus lane on each side of the road, bus lights at traffic signals so buses can proceed ahead of general traffic, and longer bus stops so getting on and off is easier and quicker for passengers.

A tree-lined median is also being installed between Clarence and Matipo streets.

“The trees we’re putting in will have a calming effect that will gently slow traffic, which will make this section of the road a more pleasant destination for shoppers and visitors,” Ms Ellis says.

“We also want to encourage shoppers that despite the works, everything’s still open along Riccarton Road – that’s why you’ll see lots of hoardings, plinths and signs reminding what shops are open and where to find them, and where to park.”

On-street parking along Riccarton Road is being permanently removed to make space for the new road layout, but the Council has created a time-restricted car park behind Riccarton Road between Rimu Street and Straven Road to replace it.

In total, the project will cost $18.4 million and is expected to be complete by December 2020. Teams will be working day and night when required, and work will stop over December 2019 to make Christmas shopping easier.

People can visit for updates.