The eastern portal of the Homer Tunnel. Photo by Craig
The New Zealand Transport Agency is considering widening
the Homer Tunnel on the Milford road (State Highway 94) between
Te Anau and Milford Sound.
Meeting the Queenstown Lakes District Council's utilities
committee yesterday, NZTA regional director Bruce Richards
said the agency was investigating options for improving
safety at the Homer Tunnel.
"I would like to see the tunnel widened. It is important to
tourism in the area, but it is also a matter of safety. One
day there could be another bus fire in there, and a wider
tunnel would allow for a pedestrian walkway along the side,
to be used in case of an emergency," Mr Richards said.
The work is still at the planning stage, with the initial
investigation scheduled to be completed in October.
After the meeting, he told the Otago Daily Times the NZTA had
been presented with various options for improving safety in
the tunnel, but said widening it appeared to be the
"preferred option so far", although no final decision has
been made yet.
After October, a tender process for the design of any chosen
upgrade will be carried out, and funding would have to be
Mr Richards indicated work on the tunnel could start within
the next financial year.
The Homer Tunnel runs beneath the Homer Saddle within
Fiordland National Park.
Construction began in 1934 and, following delays during World
War 2 and for avalanche damage, it opened in 1953.
The 1.27km long tunnel has a 10% gradient and varies in width
from 6.5m to 7.5m.
At the height of the summer tourism season it is used by more
than 100 tour buses a day.