Preliminary projections by the Christchurch City Council show there will not be enough money to fix damaged roads to pre-earthquake conditions.
The council and the Government are sharing the $2.94 million bill to fix the South Island city's quake-damaged roads and pipes.
More than 50 percent of the work is complete, with $1.2 billion left to spend.
The council's director of infrastructure and facilities rebuild, David Adamson, said today that priority would be given to fixing main roads and badly damaged roads in the red zone would be left until further decisions about the land are made.
"Some of the roads will be left in a condition that is not as what they were pre-earthquake. Some of those roads, especially if you go over them every day, are probably roads that probably don't fit in a First World city in today's terms."
An independent review of the costs is due on 1 December and would provide an updated figure on the costs needed, he said.