Yesterday it was revealed that Transport Minister had asked Waka Kotahi to look at the options for a long tunnel through Wellington.

State Highway 1 (SH1) through Wellington City is heavily congested at peak times and while planning continues on the duplicate Mt Victoria Tunnel and Basin Reserve project, the Government has also asked NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) to consider and provide advice on a Long Tunnel option, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.

“Boosting economic growth and productivity is a key part of the Government’s plan to rebuild the economy. The Long Tunnel option aligns strongly with priorities in the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport (GPS), including a reduction in travel times, greater resilience for the SH1 corridor, and improved safety for road users, pedestrians, and cyclists,” Mr Brown says.

“The Long Tunnel option has the potential to deliver up to 15-minute travel time savings between the region and Wellington airport, compared to around 2-3 minutes for the current parallel or diagonal tunnel proposals at Mt Victoria and the Basin.

“The option would also see better urban amenity through greater reallocation of surface level road space to active modes and public transport in the CBD and greater opportunities for housing intensification. Enhanced regional connectivity to the airport and hospital would also be achieved with reduced city and state highway congestion.

“The option would also mean less construction disruption for local traffic as the Long Tunnel option could be built with less disruption to the city centre and less impact on public and private properties required for other options.

“To rebuild our economy and ensure people and freight can get to where they need to go quickly and safely, we need to move at pace to deliver the infrastructure our country needs.

“I look forward to receiving advice from NZTA on the technical feasibility, cost, and funding and financing options for this proposal as NZTA works on delivering the Government’s priority of a second Mt Victoria Tunnel in Wellington.”

First up, given the rhetoric from the minister so far in his tenure (and leading up to it), it’s interesting to see him mention reallocation of street space to active modes and public transport in such a positive light. Likewise, his observation that this enables more housing because people typically don’t like living next to traffic sewers. If he’s being honest about that, hopefully this marks a step forward in his transport thinking, and away from the tedious culture war he’s seemingly been trying to wage against anything and anyone not in a car or truck.

The Long Tunnel

As you can see on the map below, SH1 carves through the central city of Wellington. Currently, just south of the Terrace Tunnel, SH1 shifts from being a motorway to running along Vivian and Buckle Streets before joining together again at the Basin Reserve and travelling though the Mt Victoria Tunnel.

The notion of a Long Tunnel isn’t new: it last emerged a few years ago as one of a long list of options for Let’s Get Wellington Moving and the talk about duplicating the Mt Victoria tunnel. The idea is to continue the motorway in a tunnel underground all the way from the Terrace Tunnel though to Cobham Dr. This would also likely include a duplication of the 3-lane terrace tunnel to enable at least 2 lanes in each direction. Such a tunnel would be up to 4km long, easily eclipsing the 2.4km Waterview tunnels as the longest road tunnels in New Zealand.

The Long Tunnel Proposal as it was a few years ago

I can certainly see the appeal of it at a conceptual level – but even with all of the talk of street reallocation and more housing, like so many of National’s projects, this is just incredibly difficult to justify.


Of course the first thing to think about is the cost. This was estimated a few years ago at $3.1 billion, but given what has happened with project cost inflation in the last few years, it could easily be double that now.

Estimated costs and affordability for Let’s Get Wellington Moving tunnel options, released under an OIA  (image via Twitter)

Add to this the fact that Wellington, as a region, has typically received more government funding for transport than most. For example, a quick look at National Land Transport Fund spending shows Wellington typically gets a greater share per person than the national average. Auckland, by comparison, normally gets less than its share, although that is made up a little bit by the CRL which sits outside the NLTF.

It’s not just the construction costs either: tunnels are extremely expensive to operate and maintain, due to needing things such as ventilation, emergency crews etc.

As an example: before Waterview opened, Waka Kotahi told me in an OIA that it would cost around $16 million annually to operate. To put in perspective, in the five years before Waterview opened, Waka Kotahi spent an average of just under $100 million annually to maintain all state highways in the Auckland region. So an additional $16 million per annum for a 2.4km stretch of road is a significant increase.

In fact, the actual amount being spent to keep Waterview operating may be higher, given that in the five years since it opened, costs for the Auckland network increased to an average of $146 million. The Waterview tunnels carry an average of 80,000 vehicles a day, and the road/fuel taxes they’d pay isn’t even enough to cover the cost of maintenance.

So how much worse will an even longer tunnel be?

The real issue with the cost is, of course, the opportunity cost. How many other, more valuable state highway upgrades could that kind of money enable? Or how many projects that would help people avoid adding more cars to the road? How many hospitals or schools could be built or upgraded? Feel free to do the maths with your own preferred examples.

As Greater Wellington Regional Council transport chairperson Thomas Nash said to RNZ, the announcement showed “an astonishing misunderstanding of transport priorities at a national level”.

“We have new inter-island ferries that we need, we have massive upgrades to regional rail/metropolitan rail that we need, we have basic stuff like bus lanes, more buses that we need. The idea that a multi-billion dollar tunnel underneath Wellington for the 30 percent of traffic going out to the east should be the top of your priority list is, frankly, astonishing.”


As well as the high cost, the problem is there just don’t seem to be that many benefits (although Joel MacManus at the Spinoff had a satirical go at calculating some of them).

Currently, traffic along both Vivian and Buckle Streets is much lower than Waterview, at between 40k-50k combined. That’s still a lot of cars to funnel through a city, but not the kind of volumes needed to justify a perhaps $6 billion project.

Furthermore, and perhaps even more seriously, my understanding is that much of the traffic that goes south through the Terrace Tunnel doesn’t carry on to the Basin Reserve. This would suggest that a Long Tunnel is only really going to be of benefit to the small number of people driving all the way to or from the airport – unless even more expensive underground interchanges are added, which would come with on- and off-ramps at surface level, thus continually pulling cars through the city and negating the street realm benefits the Minister alluded to.

The big benefit the government are pushing is the travel time savings that this could enable – but that’s only really going to be for the small number of people who will actually be able to use it from end to end. So who really benefits?

The (Industry) Long Con

Putting aside all the technical reasons and economic reasons why this is a dumb idea, perhaps most concerning is it indicates that the minister may quickly be falling into the same trap as his predecessors in the previous government – the trap of being goaded into continually supersizing already massive projects.

Labour of course most famously fell for this with their brainwave of undergrounding light rail at huge expense. But also with the harbour crossing plans, their NZ Upgrade programme, and their transport policy for the last election. They fell for the lines from officials, advisers and consultants about:

  • how you only ever get one chance to build something, so you have to make it as big and as bold as possible (the Harbour Bridge being the classic misunderstood example of how it’s better to pace yourself).
  • how we must avoid disruption at all costs (forgetting there’s no project without disruption, and plenty of examples of how to stage and handle it).
  • and always, how we always need to design our urban infrastructure around maximum predictions of what will happen in 50-100 years, even though no one can accurately predict what will happen that far out (and climate change is rarely part of those calculations).

It seemed that every time Labour felt they were getting real pressure amongst the electorate, they’d announce another bigger, dumber and completely unrealistic transport project that was never deliverable.

I’ve heard from both politicians and people in the industry who say this kind of push for massive infrastructure happens almost immediately a new government is in place, and is consistent across changes of government.

It seems unlikely Minister Brown woke up one day and thought: hey, why don’t we do a long tunnel? More likely, someone in the transport industry, quite possibly someone at Waka Kotahi, was upset that the previous proposal was not progressed, and has been pushing hard behind the scenes for this zombie idea to re-emerge.

Somewhat ironically, adding this proposal back into the mix will ultimately suck up a lot of resources and time to investigate it, lessening the overall likelihood that anything will actually be delivered.

Perhaps the one area where the minister has done better than his predecessors in the role is that he’s given himself an out, if the advice comes back that the proposal is just too expensive.

In the meantime, the Post reports that some locals are wondering if a discredited Mars-going billionaire could swing in to deliver the project, and The Spinoff suggests a few other “tell him he’s dreaming” ideas for Wellington if there’s this much money going free for a “munnel” (mega-tunnel).

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  1. Only two weeks too late for April’s Fool…

    “Somewhat ironically, adding this proposal back into the mix will ultimately suck up a lot of resources and time to investigate it, lessening the overall likelihood that anything will actually be delivered.”

    That is my hope here. They have this shiny toy and won’t force the second Mt Victoria (car) tunnel on Wellington before the clock runs out.

    Note that Kelvin Hastie was a candidate for the last Wellington Mayoral Election with his big idea being this tunnel. He got 2208 votes.

    1. I heard about this with a piss-take on Reddit

      I genuinely thought it was a rifting off a joke proposal from April 1st

      Then I saw Simeon in an interview and my jaw dropped when I understood he was actually being serious.

      I thought Simeon was an awful choice to do anything in government, but not only does he not understand science, evidence or anything else, but apparently can also be played by lobbyists just as easily as Shane or others

  2. A bypass tunnel may well improve surface traffic by reducing a small percentage, like what happens during school holidays.
    Relocating government departments out of Wellington to the provinces would surely also have the same effect. This would also reduce the natural disaster risk. e.g. Wanganui, New Plymouth, Whangarei, are all much safer than Wellington, have lower living costs, and don’t need hugely expensive transport developments.

    1. And government departments would all lose the the labour market economies of scale that being in a large (by NZ standards) city brings. People don’t want to move house or town every time they change jobs, so they stay in the same job not improving or otherwise settle for jobs they wouldn’t otherwise. Vs in a big city they are free to market themselves optimally, and employers have access to a much deeper labour pool.

      Moving it all to Auckland would be a real advantage. But can’t imagine that would go down well

      1. Yes, I’ve been told by government officials that it is impossible to get an economist in, say, Whanganui, even if some back office functions are there. The labour market in Wellington is much thicker with economists. In Canberra they scattered workplaces across the city and ended up with a very car dependent city as people change jobs more often than they move. Admittedly Statistics NZ has offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Traditionally each centre has had a specialisation, but SNZ is increasingly telling applicants they can work at any of these 3 centres.

    2. “A bypass tunnel may well improve surface traffic by reducing a small percentage, like what happens during school holidays.”

      The surface capacity freed will immediately be taken up by more driving for local trips if not removed by road diets.

      A good bit of the talk about Waterview tunnel was so very justified was also how the local arterials like New North or Mt Albert could get bus lanes and cycle lanes once traffic dropped. There were modelling reports showing how some lost 10-30% of the current traffic that would now go through the tunnel.

      Of course none of these roads actually did get cycle lanes or bus lanes added as part of, or after Waterview (“Not our job” NZTA said, and Council / AT didn’t have the money and will).

      By now, traffic (if it reduced at all) is back up, and AT’s projects ended up dying in the Connected Communities boondoggle.

      1. Yep, 100%. New projects vary rarely take into account the costs of what they claim some of the benefits are
        “space free’d up can be used for PT, active modes etc”

        Where’s the budget ….
        NZTA looks at local govt. Local govt stares right back.

      2. “A good bit of the talk about Waterview tunnel was so very justified was also how the local arterials like New North or Mt Albert could get bus lanes and cycle lanes once traffic dropped”

        FYI: Prior to the Waterview Tunnel opening, Carrington Road used to be choked with cross town car traffic, who used it as a connector from SH16 to SH20

        Carrington Road is about to get partial bus lanes.


  3. It goes to show that Wellington can any and everything it wants . Similar to what happened 100plus years ago when Auckland wanted a rail tunnel and the network electrifried and the Government of the day said to expensive , so they canned Auckland and wired up Wellington , but then again this is the Nats favourite thing more roads and this one is buried and it will also be clogged like the ones above ground .

    It’s another pipedream to their airport so the polis can get out faster to their holiday homes .

  4. I am sure the mayors of Gisborne, Far North, Wairoa and Westland etc will be rolling their eyes about this as they complete their annual plans and try to keep their local roads operating.
    Also interesting to see the road spending comparisons for the major regions-outside of earthquakes Canterbury gets much less: it helps to be flat.

        1. That’s the guts of it, it’s part of Nationals “entitled to entitlement” philosophy. Saving 15 minutes of their time is worth more than almost anything we can think of.

  5. I would have expected a National government to leverage existing investments harder.

    Obviously they need to level the centre of Petone, say from the beach to the Mitre 10.

    Move the airport there and have a clear shot along the newly seawalled highway and rail line from the Beehive.

    Bonus, lots of real estate freed up by the Miramar Links…

  6. If we are going to blow 10 billion wouldn’t it just be easier to build a whole new airport in Waikanae and build a high speed rail link? then we could just give the existing airport to Peter Jackson to add to his existing little fiefdom enough extra land for him to declare an independent country. He already got a bigger air force after all.

    1. Yep that seems like a good option. But maybe use the old airport land for houses instead.
      Put the airport in its best location (away from city, near motorway and rail), and the houses in their best location (near the city, waterfront, etc).

  7. So no new ferries for Cook Strait? No more electrification and upgrades of regional train networks? No Light Rail for Auckland?

    But the minister of transport and Auckland, resident of Botany, is proposing a stupid tunnel, because it could contain a ROAD, in Wellington?

    How is this different from the last government’s ministry of silly ideas?

    Let’s build more ROADS, so we can kill some more people on them

    vs. let us build more public transport so we can protect our children from the 1950s obsession that has destroyed our beautiful society?

    I have often noted the obsession with morbidity we have, but surely we should be encouraged to choose life?

    bah humbug

  8. It sounds like a great private toll road. If there is serious demand for such a tunnel then those people will be prepared to pay to use it, and there are already alternatives for those that don’t. If no one is prepared to pay for it, then the BCR is less than 1.
    Lets say $6 billion to build, assume they want at least a 10% return so $600 million per year, if they get 50k users a day, they only need a toll of $33 a trip to pay for the initial build. Add maintenance etc it might be closer to $50.
    Lets say only 50% of potential users are prepared to pay $50, well now they need to make it $100 to get the same revenue. But only 25% are prepared to pay $100, so now they need to make it $200. And that spirals until no one is prepared to use it.

    1. And if no-one and their Cars don’t use it the turn it into a Rail Tunnel for when the Airport is finally moved and homes are built on the site .

    2. If Wellington had only a share of its own taxes and its contribution share of the NLTF then there is no way it could afford to build a 4km long road tunnel to bypass the city centre.
      And if Wellington had genuine control of its transport spend (like regions do in France for instance) then I am sure they would choose far wiser transport project investments.
      The only way this works is this weird transport game NZ has set up. Whereby gift giving elites control the transport pot whilst the public (who provides the revenue to build the projects) are reduced to a beggar supplicant status.
      Joel MacManus describes it well.
      “Major parties have become used to using infrastructure investment as election bribes. Ministers act like feudal lord, granting gifts of bridges and tunnels to gracious peasants, and mayors often end up like glorified lobbyists for their regions.”
      I wonder when the system will collapse. Either through the elites lose their social license to act as dictatorial feudal lords or the sheer unaffordability of the stop-start unaccountable gift giving infrastructure provision system becomes unsustainable.

  9. This could just be a distraction, but…

    A big difference between previous government getting distracted with these mega projects and this government is that this minister is about to be given the power to fast-track and bypass due process. The same minister who also seems to be ignoring evidence of any sort of reality about the costs and benefits of these proposals.

    Submissions on the fast track bill close this Friday, please submit if you can.

    1. This minister is a buffoon, and is being advised by that other buffoon, Steven Joyce.
      Add in some other crooks and dunces like Murray McCully and there you have it. NZ Inc.

  10. What hurts is the $100m that will be spent on finding out it’s a bad idea. The proposal should be buried, not the road.
    Caesar, Pompey and Crassus want to radically downsize NZ public services, so all the unemployed government facilitators will go to Australia etc., the town centre economy will shrink and the traffic will evaporate. Sorted.

      1. Like Auckland Light Rail’s blue, yellow and red branding – “Blue-sky thinking, All turns to Custard, Blood on the Carpet.”

    1. As someone that studied classics at Uni, I think comparing Seymour, Luxon, and Peters to the first triumvirate is a hugely unfair comparison.

      For one, all 3 of Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus were competent and had an actual policy programme they wanted to implement.

      They’re more like the three stooges than the three triumviri.

      1. I mean, public transport – even if fast and reliable, and from the airport directly to the Wellington City Centre – can’t really be used by MPs.

        I mean, think of it: You arrive from your local electorate on your Air NZ flight, drive your car down from the aircraft onto the airport tarmac… and then what? Are you going to put your car on the BUS? Simeon just proposes common sense, really.

        1. Yes, imagine the horror of our politicians actually having to be in the same space as the public.
          Someone might even have the temerity to ask the question – are we the servant or are you in this relationship?

    1. For that amount of money – say $30m a year in operating costs (based on Waterview at ~$16m), that is a bit over $80k a day.

      If a helicopter flight was say $2k for the trip, you could literally pay for a helicopter to ferry the members of parliament to and from every flight that arrived in Wellington.

      And they would like that.

      Or for the cost of one tunnel, just imagine how much light rail you could get in and around Wellington for the same price. Especially since that guy that used to run an airline could do it for far less than Labour of course.

      I propose a more modest solution; buy each member of parliament a really nice $10k E-bike. Or maybe even a 4 wheeled NZ Post style micro EV for the ministers.

  11. They are planning to build this in addition to the other mt vic tunnel as far as I can tell. NZTA and contractors will be licking their lips at this.

    The one lesson that ALR should have taught NZ, is tunnels are not easy to build.

  12. Has anyone done any analysis of how many vehicle trips per day there are between East of Kilbirnie and North of The Terrace?

    There may be some latent demand but as a Wellingtonian I struggle to see enough people using it to get the BCR anywhere close to 1. The benefits are a fraction of those for Waterview and at a far higher cost.

  13. The irrational obsession with quick road journeys to the airport shows how different politicians world has become, to that, the rest of us inhabit.
    For most, such journeys are a relitively rare occurrence, and peak time trips rarer still. What matters to most of us is the time, reliability, and cost of our near daily trips between our homes and our places of employment and education.
    Improvements here will have a far greater impact on our national productivity then providing a few plane loads a faster drive to Wellington Airport.

    By my quick view of the suburb population statistics, the population of the Wellington Eastern Suburb catchments is still significantly less then 30000 people.
    So if $6 billion to build. So $200,000 per resident to build
    And $30 million a year to maintain. so another $1000 per resident per year just to maintain 4 kilometres of near dead end road. That would never be recoverable by any amount of road user charges.
    A road that adds absolutly nothing to any national transport resilience.

    They can’t be serious that this represents prudent investment.
    What is truely scary is that they now have created a process that could allow this to actually proceed, without without any independent scrutiny.

    1. And I notice it was Announced when the Fat Controller was flitting around Asia , and did he tell Money Gag Willis what he was up too ? .,

    2. To be fair National is obsessed with quick road journeys everywhere. This dovetails nicely with Simeon’s PISS (productivity in suburban streets) programme.

  14. What I can say, this has been an ongoing 61 year talk fest with little results.

    Lets do an updated version of the original concept of the missing inner city link of SH 1 between the Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels as outlined in De Leuw Cather 1963 Report and updated in the Burrell 1980 Report, being a ‘Cut and Cover’ trench along the approximate route of Karo Drive and Buckle Street, with over-bridges at Cuba Street and Taranaki Street, grade-separated intersections at Taranaki Street, Tory Street and the Basin Reserve. ending at a duplicated Mount Victoria Tunnel. The Arras Tunnel is the start of the updated plan.

    This would be a cheaper option than a 4km tunnel, as the land has already been purchased and buildings demolished. To pay for this bypass use toll charging.

    Nearly 60% of the car traffic originates outside Wellington city boundaries going predominantly to Wellington regional hospital, Wellington airport and lessor extent the regional aquatic centre in Kilbirnie.

    There needs to less talk and more action or other wise this could end up as a 100 year talk fest.

    1. The solution is not to turn to plans written before the impact of so much car dependent planning was understood. Instead, we should use the knowledge available to us today, including acknowledging the challenges are different.

      We need neither a tunnel nor beefed up state highways here. What we need is to reduce the car traffic significantly.

      By investing in rail, bus, walking and cycling infrastructure, people can shift modes for both longer and shorter distance trips.

      Spending money on state highways means it’s not available for critical modeshift investment.

      Kris, do you not actually accept that vehicle traffic must roughly halve in the cities for us to reduce our emissions in the timeframe required to secure a safe world? Climate change isn’t something to use as an advocacy argument just when it suits.

  15. “Nearly 60% of the car traffic originates outside Wellington city boundaries going predominantly to Wellington regional hospital, Wellington airport and lessor extent the regional aquatic centre in Kilbirnie”

    Sounds like an extension of the rail network could deal with that.

  16. SOLUTION: Relocate all Wellington based Govt Departments, to various provincial towns around NuZild, along with the installation of high speed fibre broadband.

  17. It seems that Thomas Nash from the GWRC is the only level headed one in this whole saga.

    I don’t know that much about wellington geography but given that it’s the southern most point of SH1 in the north island, is it that important that motorists be able to drive unimpeded from one side of the city to the other?

    As Nash says, the money would be far better spent on things like new ferries… Not only are the current ones breaking down on a regular basis but a binding contract is already in place with a shipyard which would cost $$ unnecessarily to break.

    Developing commuter & freight rail links in the Golden Triangle (Auckland / Hamilton / Tauranga) where 50% of NZs population reside would also be a good use of the money.

    Labour had the right idea (but pitched it badly) with Auckland Light Rail. There is a wedge of Auckland that has no decent rapid transit and does need to be addressed. Spending 8 years & $100+ mill without having a thing to show for it is worse than a waste if money… It’s an embarrassment.

    Then of course there’s a need for heavy rail to Auckland airport. Also Wellingtons water leak problem etc etc.

    Of all the things that our country needs, a barely used road tunnel with little public support is the last thing that we need.

    Maybe we should make Nash the Minister for Transport. Looks like he’s do a better job.

  18. Forget the tunnel to the airport, which is only 24 metres above sea level at the southern end, just tunnel Cook Strait. That would make Willis very happy but the price will be mindblowingly higher than the ferries she cancelled

  19. Wellington is in dire need of an extension to is regional rail system which stops dead at the present Wellington Station and serves nothing south of Bunny Street. A good 25% of the region’s population resides south of this point, as well as many significant businesses and amenities. A 4Km tunnel beneath the city (with appropriate intermediate stations) is exactly what is needed to enable this rail-extension.
    The first steps towards this were proposed in the 1950s and 1960s but these got drowned out by clamour for extending the Johsonville-Porirua motorway through the city, partially achieved with the Terrace Tunnel in the 1970s. Since then, rail tunnels have been right off the radar.
    If the government really has the spare $billions to build a 4Km tunnel beneath Wellington, then the rail extension project should be revived. Making regional journeys which require to cross Wellington are already relatively easy by car. Trying to do the same thing by public transport is a mission and few bother. Therefore the traffic problems reinforce themselves.
    Wellington’s needs its own version of a City Rail Link.

    1. Its so depressingly obvious, isn’t it.

      A transport planner from overseas would walk in, look at the pinch points and the destination flows and ask “why have you stopped your rail line there?”

  20. Wellington Airport located at the end of the line certainly has a uniquely concentrated access path.
    Such a concentrated path is a considerable disadvantage when private transport is by far the dominant mode of access, imposing a considerable surcharge on roading demand.
    But this concentrated path is actually a benifit if high capacity prioritised public transport is provided.
    Not the existing Sky Bus that detours into Kilbirnie and then stops at all stations between Courtney Place and it’s Railway Station terminus,
    It could be immensely improved if more bus priority was provided on the route, which would have a wider benifit then just those travelling to and from the airport.
    The route should be made truely Express, in the CBD with a stop adjacent to Courtney Place and then traveling down a prioritised way down Wakefield/Cable Streets and on to the waterfront quays only stopping adjacent to the Queens Wharf lights before terminating? at the Railway Station.
    Long term extend the existing heavy rail underground.
    Although the tunnels would be longer then the proposed road tunnels, the vastly reduced bore, fire suppression, and ventilation requirements would make the capital cost similar, especially if the cost of car parking provision at the airport is counted,
    The real saving would be in operating costs. Compare the operating cost of the Waterview tunnel with that of the similar length Tawa no2 tunnel.

  21. Don, I believe there is a plan to re-route some bus services via the Wellington waterfront route instead of everything going via the “Slowdown Mile”, as at present. It would be of benefit if the airport bus was routed this way. Bus-lanes and traffic-light priority are also being touted for this. Apart from speeding up the airport bus, the other need is to connect it end-on with the trains, so somehow route it into Platform 10 of the railway station. At the moment it its stop is located 200m away via a pedestrian underpass at the bus station. I believe many more people would wish to connect from regional trains to this service, than from local buses.
    But longer-term, or whenever there is an urge to build a 4Km tunnel(!), then extend heavy rail. I believe rail could possibly run at-grade or in a cutting from Kilbirnie (descending to pass beneath the airport runway), so it may not need to be in tunnel all the way to the airport. But no serious investigation as to the possibilities at the airport end has ever been done.

  22. Many of Sydney’s tunnels are only 1 lane wide (with a shoulder). Given how little traffic would actually be using this new tunnel in Wellington, perhaps downsizing it to single lane would significantly reduce its costs. The existing alternative route would still remain. Furthermore there’s a good 1km section near the hospital that wouldn’t really need to be underground and the costs of buying up land for it would likely be considerably less.

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