Dart tunnel idea slammed

A tunnel linking Routeburn Rd and Hollyford Rd could be disastrous for the Te Anau economy, a Te Anau business spokesman said yesterday.

Te Anau Community Board chairman Alistair Jukes told the Otago Daily Times Milford Dart Ltd's proposal to construct the $150 million, 11.3km single-lane commercial coach tunnel was "one of the sillier ideas there's been around for a long time".

"We've got two tunnels in the [area] that cost an astronomical amount of money and these people are talking about building a tunnel for [$150 million].

"They don't know what's under that mountain. Nobody has ever said what they're going to do with the roads at each end.

"Most people here in Te Anau would rather have a road between here and Haast than putting a tunnel through."

Mr Jukes said one of the big attractions for visitors to the area was the scenic drive to Milford, which takes in Te Anau and the Milford Rd.

"Driving through a tunnel is not going to be a hell of a big attraction."

The Department of Conservation announced on Thursday it had agreed in principal to the company's proposal, first mooted in 2005, and it was now open to public comment.

Mr Jukes said many in Te Anau were in a state of "disbelief" yesterday.

Few would agree with building a tunnel, he said.

"I think 99% of the town would be dead against it ... it is going to do absolutely nothing [for Te Anau].

"It would harm the economy - people just wouldn't be here."

The next community board meeting would be held on December 16, but Mr Jukes said the matter "may not be" discussed "unless somebody wants to put it on the agenda".

Attempts by the ODT to contact Connectabus, which operates the Milford Sound Select coach trips, Real Journeys, Kiwi Discoveries and the Barbecue Bus were unsuccessful yesterday.



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