24 Jul 2013
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Chorus leads the way as Wellington re-opens for business

Despite a one-in-five chance of a repeat of Sunday's earthquake, Wellington will be open for business today according to Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

As the city recovers from the 6.5-magnitude quake which shook the capital city less than two days ago, today will be business as usual for the companies which choose so, one of which is Chorus.

After awaiting a verdict on whether it was safe to re-enter buildings across Wellington, Seddon and Blenheim, the telco released a statement late yesterday afternoon saying:

"The majority of the Chorus buildings in the area have been structurally examined and are now safe to re-enter," it said.

"These include the three main Chorus office buildings in Wellington and most exchange buildings.

"There have been no reports of structural damage to any of these buildings. We look forward to returning to business as usual."

Speaking at a media briefing yesterday, Major Wade-Brown said it is down to the employees to decide whether staff should come into work.

After an initial visual inspection by Council building inspectors and engineers, of almost 2,500 buildings in the CBD, about 35 buildings have been identified as externally damaged.

Mayor Wade-Brown says most of the damage is minor - mainly broken windows and cracked or broken masonry - resulting in fallen debris and potential danger to passers-by.

About 12 buildings on Featherston Street - between Ballance and Gray streets - have been barriered-off due to concerns about falling masonry and glass. The masonry and pieces of glass from some older window frames is still falling off the buildings at times.

“We do not want to close Featherston Street to pedestrians and traffic - but people in a hurry through the central city should avoid the street until further notice,” Mayor Wade-Brown said.

Mesh fencing, barriers, warning signs and security guards will keep pedestrians away from the facades of the affected buildings - but it will mean traffic is down to one lane on much of the street and pedestrians will have to ‘zig-zag’ down the street a number of times.

Three major car parking buildings in the central city have been closed by their owners while the buildings are inspected for possible structural damage. They are the James Smith’s car park, the car park on the corner of Tory and Wakefield streets and the building on the corner of Victoria Street and Willeston Street.

This means a large number of motorists who regularly use these buildings should consider how they get to work - possibly by car-pooling or public transport.

A student volunteer army is in the process of being set up in Wellington according to Mayor Wade-Brown.

“While the damage here is nothing like it was in Canterbury, it is very heartening that our local students are ready to help out," she said.

The commuter rail services resumed at 1pm yesterday following checks of bridges, tunnels and other rail infrastructure.

All major buildings around Civic Square - including the Town Hall, Council administration buildings, City Gallery and the Central Library - are open today.

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