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Graeme Farr

September 23, 2019 September 2019 No Comments

IT’S TUNNEL TIME!!

How have we not managed to build a road tunnel through the Remutaka’s in 50 years? Sixty-five years ago, we could build a 9km tunnel for rail so why can’t build one a third of the length now? Countries like Norway, with a similar population to NZ, has 1000 road tunnels – one is 24km long! 

I am standing for Mayor for all three Wairarapa councils to get people thinking about it.

There have been reports and plans done in 1967, 1995 and 2008. The latest 2008 report simply stated the only option was $800M and therefore unaffordable. Yet Norway, and even Iceland with less people than Wellington, see to be able to build tunnels with ease and at very low cost. 

What is surprising is the short length of the tunnel required. Although the new route would be 9km – down from 14km over the hill – the tunnel need only be about 2km long and take around two minutes to drive through. Ideal is a twin tunnel like the two recent Auckland projects, but a lower speed single two-way one like the similar length 1964 built one in Lyttelton would be far better than any improvements to the hill road. Lyttelton cost $90 million in todays money and was not damaged by the earthquakes. Their hill road took 8 years to reopen. 

Other points;

  • The tunnel route does not use the road valley from Kaitoke but uses an easier more open valley to the north
  • Around 7000 cars and 450 trucks use the road now.
  • Cars would save around 10 mins and trucks around 15 mins
  • There has been an increase in serious and fatal accidents since the last reports and the road is one of the most dangerous state highways in NZ with a dismal 2 star rating
  • With the huge improvements to the Kapiti and Horowhenua, the Wairarapa will fall behind in economic development.
  • There are expensive rail options being proposed for Wairarapa and Wellington which should be judged against road tunnel options 
  • The rail option requires the hill road to remain to get people to use the train.
  • A tunnel would spur improvements like heavy truck bypasses of the towns and four-six lanes on SH2 to Wellington

The question is not whether a tunnel is viable – but what level of tunnel is appropriate and affordable.  Let’s find out  Vote for the Tunnel

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