National commits to start building second Mt Victoria tunnel in first term

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Congestion is common at the Mt Victoria tunnel in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

A National-led Government will begin construction on a second Mt Victoria tunnel in its first term.

That’s the commitment party infrastructure spokesman Chris Bishop is making to Wellington residents through a press release, but he hasn’t said when it would be finished.

Bishop outlined that under National’s infrastructure policy, the Minister for Infrastructure would be able to select certain projects as major infrastructure priorities, meaning it would take no longer than 12 months to go through resource consent.

He confirmed the second tunnel and the Basin Reserve upgrade, estimated to cost $2.2 billion, would be prioritised.


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The tunnel would provide two lanes for traffic going towards the airport. The two lanes of the existing tunnel would provide a route into the city.

“Wellingtonians are sick of the seemingly interminable arguing over the Basin Reserve and a second Mt Victoria tunnel,” Bishop said.

“The current tunnel was built in 1931 and services 37,000 vehicles per day. It is long overdue an upgrade and the next National government will deliver where Labour has failed.”

National's Chris Bishop made the announcement this morning. Photo / Mark Mitchell
National’s Chris Bishop made the announcement this morning. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Bishop said the fast-track consenting process would mean construction would begin “before the end of National’s first term”. He did not clarify at what point during the term construction would begin, nor did he say when the project was likely to be finished.


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He argued a second tunnel was “critical” for Wellington’s economic growth, congestion and public transport.

Extra capacity means more room for private cars and will allow for more bus capacity to the eastern suburbs. It will also improve life for walkers and cyclists.

He stated National would also build the the Petone to Grenada Link Road and Cross Valley Link in Lower Hutt, and upgrade the Lower North Island Train Network.

In June, the Government announced it was moving ahead with a second Mt Victoria tunnel and light rail running from the central railway station to Island Bay as its “preferred choice”.

Upgrades would also be made to improve traffic flow at the Basin Reserve, which involves the extension of the Arras Tunnel. The package was estimated to cost $7.4b in 2030 dollars.

Adam Pearse is a political reporter in the NZ Herald Press Gallery team, based at Parliament. He has worked for NZME since 2018, covering sport and health for the Northern Advocate in Whangārei before moving to the NZ Herald in Auckland, covering Covid-19 and crime.

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