Peter Dunne proposes multi-billion-dollar Wellington tunnels
The war over Wellington's Ohariu electorate has begun with a multi-billion-dollar idea from incumbent United Future MP Peter Dunne.
He's proposing to replace a steep section of State Highway 1 with a pair of tunnels twice the length of Auckland's new Waterview Connection.
A slip in the Ngauranga Gorge last week caused headaches for Wellington commuters. But for Mr Dunne, it was an opportunity.
"The gorge has been a failure in recent weeks with slips and other hazards and bad weather, and I don't think we can have our main access way put at threat," he said.
Slip at Ngauranga Gorge blocks SH1 access into Wellington http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2017/07/slip-at-ngauranga-gorge-blocks-sh1-access-into-wellington.html
His solution is to build a tunnel under the gorge, bypassing it altogether - at a length of more than 4km.
Mr Dunne's idea is inspired by Auckland's new Waterview Tunnels which are 2.4km long, cost $1.4 billion to build and have just opened after four years of construction.
The Wellington equivalent is likely to be expensive, but Mr Dunne admits he doesn't "have a costing figure" for his proposal.
The timing of this plan isn't a coincidence. An election is looming, and he's facing a challenge from Labour's Greg O'Connor.
"There's much better things that these billions of dollars can be spent on than just an expensive election promise.
"No one has asked for a tunnel any more than anyone has asked for a wall."