THE Government is to invest $25 million and create 180 jobs during a Homer Tunnel upgrade on State Highway 94.
The announcement was made by Regional Economic Development and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones last Thursday.
The Homer Tunnel safety improvements have been funded through the Government’s rejuvenation package aimed at kick-starting the post Covid-19 economic rebuild and comprises a package of critical tunnel upgrade projects.
Mr Jones said improving infrastructure was a key component of the 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.”
The package includes:
- ‘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.
- Construction of new emergency refuges inside the tunnel for people potentially caught during an emergency
- 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’ work for the tunnel would begin immediately, along with some components of the eastern tunnel portal area upgrade.
Work on the remaining safety improvements would be progressed during the next 18 months.
“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 the district in terms of from the actual project,” Mr Jones said.
“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 under way have shown the flow-on benefits of funding for the local community and for the wider region.”