A section of the temporary portal extension to be installed
at the western entrance of the Homer Tunnel. Photo by
Work is expected to begin today on a 60m long temporary
portal at the Homer Tunnel, on the road to Milford, in a $1.5
million bid to improve safety for road users in the event of
The New Zealand Transport Agency announced yesterday the
first of five 12m sections, which would form the portal on
State Highway 94, were set to be moved into position today,
Each section of the temporary extension will be assembled in
a car park area 100m downhill from the western tunnel
entrance. The extension should be completed by mid-February.
The agency's Southland area manager, Peter Robinson, said
yesterday some 5pm closures of the Milford road, from the
Hollyford turn-off, would be necessary to do the job with the
minimum of disruption to road users.
''We will give road users and tour operators as much advance
notice of these as possible,'' Mr Robinson said.
''Since mid-December, the road has been closed daily from 7pm
to 7.30am because of rock-fall risk in the area.''
The extension is intended to deflect scatter rock above the
western tunnel entrance away from the highway. Mr Robinson
said work on fabricating the $1 million to $1.5 million
portal began just after Christmas.
''There isn't a quick permanent fix to the current rock-fall
risk at the western entrance to the tunnel and it is likely
to take time to find one,'' he said.
''Until then, we have to look at ways to safely extend the
opening hours of this important tourist route while the
rock-fall risk remains.
''This portal extension provides that as well as giving us an
opportunity to work on the rocks above the entrance without
putting road users at risk.''
The flexible modular design of the portal meant it could be
removed and erected again at the location, or used elsewhere
on the Milford road, Mr Robinson said.