Final piece of $29m Homer Tunnel safety project to begin

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineOctober 27, 2023

The final piece of work for the $29 million Homer Tunnel safety project will kick off next month.

The Homer Tunnel, the entrance to Milford Sound Piopiotahi, has been getting safety improvements over the past two years.

The next and final piece of work is the replacement of the old avalanche shelter on SH94 at the mouth of the tunnel on the Te Anau/eastern side, starting in November.

“People will see work underway around the tunnel during daytime hours which won’t affect their journey times,” said Waka Kotahi senior project manager Chris Collins.

“But we will need some night-time closures for the first two weeks of demolition early in November. Given very few people travel at night, there should be minimal effect upon road users and we will advertise the closures well in advance.”

The Government-funded project’s new avalanche and rockfall shelter, a 45m extension of the Homer Tunnel itself on the Te Anau/eastern side, has been designed for portable, modular, quick installation. This will enable efficient construction at the entrance to the tunnel.

“The old structure has reached the end of its useful life and will be demolished at night with full road closures for around two weeks between 8pm and 6am,” said Collins.

Thes work can only start once the winter/spring avalanche risk is over – expected in coming days.

To minimise disruption to visitors, who largely drive to Milford Sound Piopiotahi in daytime hours, the tunnel will be largely unaffected during daytime hours from November through to May 2024.

Full night closures will be needed for the initial demolition works, dependent upon the avalanche season ending. The existing tunnel shelter is about 35m long.

At this stage the dates are Monday, 6 November to Monday, 20 November. Apart from emergency vehicles, the tunnel will be fully closed overnight 8pm to 6am for these nights of work.

A minimal number of evening closures, 6pm to 10pm will also be required, with the tunnel opening every hour for 15 minutes to let traffic through. The work will run over six days Monday to Saturday inclusive, with Sundays included if weather causes postponed days.