Homer Tunnel upgrade to create 180 jobs

The Homer Tunnel on State Highway 94. Photo: ODT files
The Homer Tunnel on State Highway 94. Photo: ODT files
The Government is to invest $25 million and create 180 jobs during a Homer Tunnel upgrade on State Highway 94, as well as a $5.3 million boost for Southland producers.

Shane Jones. Photo: Getty Images
Shane Jones. Photo: Getty Images
Both announcements were made by Regional Economic Development and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones this morning.

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.

Shane Jones said improving infrastructure is 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’ 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.

“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," 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."

BOOST FOR PRODUCERS 

The $5.3 million boost for Southland producers is through the Provincial Growth Fund.

Alliance Group Limited’s meat processing facility and Drysdale Hydroponics’ vegetable growing business will receive the loan to boost production and take on more local workers.

Mr Jones said those businesses were in line with Southland’s priority to diversify its economic base and will create new jobs during construction and in the longer-term.

“Alliance Group Limited (AGL), a farmer owned co-operative meat processing company, will receive a $2.8 million loan to assist with the conversion of its Lorneville venison processing plant to include beef processing. This will provide its workers with a 10-12 week longer work season and will also create up to 20 new jobs.

“This expansion brings several benefits to the region, including more jobs, upskilling of new and existing staff and increased beef processing capacity in Southland during the peak season which will increase staff earnings through enabling a longer processing season."

The conversion of AGL’s plant will start in a few months and will create jobs for approximately 100 people on the construction site, including jobs for designers and engineers over an eight-month construction period.

Mr Jones said Drysdale Hydroponics will receive a loan of up to $2.5 million towards the expansion of its existing hydroponic vegetable growing operation into producing a more diverse range of hydroponically grown produce, which includes tomatoes, capsicums, strawberries and micro-greens.

“The 16-year old horticulture business supplies local wholesalers, supermarkets, as well as businesses preparing food for sale, such as cafes and caterers.

“Two new greenhouses, a pack house and staff amenities will be built, with work starting within the next two months. A total of 30 new jobs will be created at the business, 17 of which will be added in the first six months of operation."

Mr Jones said Southland needed a wider variety of food production other than beef and dairy, sheep and root-stock vegetables for commercial supply.

"Drysdale Hydroponics has proven it can commercially produce lettuce and other leafy greens in Southland. This will be a great asset to the region where demand for fresh, locally grown produce can often outstrip supply.

"Produce not produced in Southland needs to be airfreighted from the top of the North Island, at considerable extra economic and environmental cost to both growers and consumers.

“Both businesses we’re supporting today are proud Southland entities and their respective expansions will quite rightly benefit locals."

The $5.3 million boost for Southland producers is through the Provincial Growth Fund. 

Alliance Group Limited’s meat processing facility and Drysdale Hydroponics’ vegetable growing business will receive the loan to boost production and take on more local workers.

Mr Jones said those businesses were in line with Southland’s priority to diversify its economic base and will create new jobs during construction and in the longer-term.

“Alliance Group Limited (AGL), a farmer owned co-operative meat processing company, will receive a $2.8 million loan to assist with the conversion of its Lorneville venison processing plant to include beef processing. This will provide its workers with a 10-12 week longer work season and will also create up to 20 new jobs.

“This expansion brings several benefits to the region, including more jobs, upskilling of new and existing staff and increased beef processing capacity in Southland during the peak season which will increase staff earnings through enabling a longer processing season."

The conversion of AGL’s plant will start in a few months and will create jobs for approximately 100 people on the construction site, including jobs for designers and engineers over an eight-month construction period.

Mr Jones said Drysdale Hydroponics will receive a loan of up to $2.5 million towards the expansion of its existing hydroponic vegetable growing operation into producing a more diverse range of hydroponically grown produce, which includes tomatoes, capsicums, strawberries and micro-greens.

“The 16-year old horticulture business supplies local wholesalers, supermarkets, as well as businesses preparing food for sale, such as cafes and caterers.

“Two new greenhouses, a pack house and staff amenities will be built, with work starting within the next two months. A total of 30 new jobs will be created at the business, 17 of which will be added in the first six months of operation."

Mr Jones said Southland needed a wider variety of food production other than beef and dairy, sheep and root-stock vegetables for commercial supply.

"Drysdale Hydroponics has proven it can commercially produce lettuce and other leafy greens in Southland. This will be a great asset to the region where demand for fresh, locally grown produce can often outstrip supply. 

"Produce not produced in Southland needs to be airfreighted from the top of the North Island, at considerable extra economic and environmental cost to both growers and consumers.

“Both businesses we’re supporting today are proud Southland entities and their respective expansions will quite rightly benefit locals."

 

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