Safety upgrade for the Homer Tunnel
In July the Minister of Infrastructure Shane Jones announced the Homer Tunnel was getting a safety upgrade from the ‘shovel ready’ funding. Infrastructure improvements are a key component of the government’s post COVID-19 economic recovery plan. The government plans to invest $25 million to improve the resilience and safety of the Homer Tunnel.
This multi-million dollar investment will provide a much needed economic boost for the Southland region through the creation of 180 jobs – directly and indirectly related to the tunnel project.
“Improving infrastructure is a key component of our 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,” Mr Jones said.
Milford Road Alliance manager Kevin Thompson said the money invested by government through the Covid-19 recovery package meant work previously planned could be brought forward “with some of the work now able to get underway immediately”.
Specific safety features for the Homer Tunnel will include a ‘fire life’ safety system, involving the installation of radar and incident detection cameras with remote tunnel monitoring from Te Anau, active lighting, barrier arms and a power systems upgrade.
The eastern tunnel portal area will be upgraded to provide a new viewing area, an avalanche mitigation system, rockfall protection above the tunnel portal and dual-laning for winter traffic management.
Work for the ‘fire life’ safety system and some aspects of the eastern tunnel portal area will start immediately. Work on the construction of new emergency refuges sites inside the tunnel (for people caught inside when there is a fire or an earthquake), the installation of a new forced-ventilation system, a deluge system and other upgrades to the eastern tunnel portal area will occur over the next 18 months.