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Long Tunnel For SH1 Wellington Being Considered

Hon Simeon Brown
Minister of Transport

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.

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“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.”


  • In Wellington, State Highway 1 (SH1) is the main arterial that connects the hospital and the airport with the city centre and the wider region; however, it is subject to congestion, safety and resilience concerns due to the many intersections with local transport routes. These in turn inhibit efficient and effective access and limit economic growth and productivity. Population growth in the city and the region also means that these issues will get progressively worse over time.
  • Improving SH1 from the Wellington Urban Motorway through the city centre to the airport has consistently been part of Wellington’s transport strategies. The strategy has typically included four projects: a duplicate Terrace Tunnel, improvements through Te Aro, grade separation at the Basin Reserve and duplicating the Mt Victoria Tunnel.
  • All four projects were included in the Wellington Regional Corridor Roads of National Significance and then the 2019 LGWM Programme Business Case (PBC) ‘Recommended Programme of Investment’.
  • An alternative approach, or Long Tunnel option, is twin two-lane long tunnels, four kilometres in length, from north of the Terrace Tunnel to Wellington Road. This removes the resilience and safety concerns and provides a seamless connection to the south and the east. The existing tunnels would be repurposed to provide vital functions in the local transport network to connect the city centre with the highway and outer suburbs.

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