New Zealand earthquake recovery project wins ICE People’s Choice Award



The Kaikoura earthquake recovery project in New Zealand has won the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) People’s Choice Award 2018. It was one of 10 international civil engineering schemes shortlisted.

A partnership between the New Zealand Transport Agency and KiwiRail worked speedily to reconnect railways, roads and harbour when an earthquake hit the region in November 2016.

ICE’s new President Andrew Wyllie announced the winner at his presidential address in London. "Through a Herculean effort, they were able to reopen the roads, harbour and railways, safely and quickly - bringing enormous benefits to the local community," Wyllie said.

The ICE People’s Choice Award celebrates the civil engineering projects that have made the most positive impact on their local communities. Nearly 70,000 votes were cast this year – four times the number of votes made in 2017.

Seán Harris, ICE Director of Membership, said: “I am pleased to see the public recognise how the project directly transformed people’s quality of life. "More than just a re-opening of road and rail systems, the project reconnected families and friends, and allowed businesses to welcome back tourism. “One of many inspiring submissions this year, the project stands out globally as not only one of the finest examples of outstanding technical achievement but also highlights the importance of civil engineering in enabling social and economic progress.”

The earthquake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter Scale, left Kaikoura and its neighbouring communities completely cut off. Nearly one million cubic metres of rock and debris fell onto roads the rail line – enough to fill 400 Olympic swimming pools. However, the team managed to reopen road and railway infrastructure just 12 months or so after the disaster. The rail line was open to freight trains just 10 months after tracks had been thrown into the sea. The harbour was back in operation exactly one year after the earthquake. State Highway 1 was open to motorists again after just one year, one month, and one day.

The other nine projects that were up for this year’s award were: The EDF Renewables Blyth Offshore Demonstrator Windfarm Project, UK Forth Replacement Crossing, UK Harbour Area Treatment Scheme, Hong Kong Hyderabad Metro Rail Project, India Rural Access Programme (RAP) 3, Nepal Shieldhall Tunnel, UK The repair of Tadcaster Bridge, UK Tate St Ives, UK Torcross sea defence, UK.

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