A Government investment of $25 million will create 180 jobs and improve the safety and resilience of the Homer Tunnel on the crucial State Highway 94 (The Milford Road) tourist route linking Te Anau and Piopiotahi Milford Sound, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones says.
The multimillion-dollar investment from the Government’s rejuvenation package aimed at kick-starting the post COVID-19 economic rebuild will provide a much-needed boost for the Southland region and significantly improve the safety of the remote Homer Tunnel for all road users.
“Improving infrastructure is a key component of our economic recovery plan. This funding is an investment in the future of a critical piece of infrastructure for the region, improving safety for tourists, creating jobs and providing much-needed economic stimulus,” Shane Jones said.
The Homer Tunnel safety improvements comprise a package of critical tunnel upgrade projects including:
- ‘Fire life’ safety systems, including the installation of radar and incident detection cameras, remote tunnel monitoring from Te Anau, active lighting, barrier arms, and a power systems upgrade
- The construction of new emergency refuges inside the tunnel for people potentially caught during an emergency (a fire or an earthquake)
- The installation of a new forced ventilation system
- A deluge system to control/limit a fire
- An upgrade to the Eastern tunnel portal area, a new viewing area, an avalanche mitigation system and rockfall protection above the tunnel portal, and dual-laning for winter traffic management
The ‘fire life’ works for the tunnel will begin immediately, along with some components of the Eastern tunnel portal area upgrade. Work on the remaining safety improvements will be progressed over the next 18 months.
“The tunnel’s remote location also means the benefits from construction will be enjoyed more across the region, with the need for supplies and support for workers increasing demand for food, accommodation, and project materials.
“As well as the opportunity to progress some very important safety works, this project will also support the Southland region in terms of employment, and the work will benefit Te Anau and district in terms of ‘multiplier-effects’ from the actual project.
“This ‘flow-on multiplier-effect’ from funding should not be under-estimated for its wider financial return to the region. The Milford Rd storm damage reconstruction works currently underway have shown the flow-on benefits of funding for the local community and for the wider region,” Shane Jones said.