The bus tunnel in the 1950s
Wellington City Council is doing this work because structural assessments have shown that while the tunnel itself is likely to withstand a reasonably large earthquake, the adjacent hillside and old tunnel entrances could come down and block this important bus route.
Councillor Justin Lester, who is acting chair of the Council’s Transport and Urban Development Committee, says the proposed strengthening works will reduce the risk to users and help ensure the tunnel can still be used following an earthquake.
“This project is part of our ongoing programme where we've been targeting high-risk routes, strengthening road and pedestrian bridges, and building new retaining walls that are designed to perform well in earthquakes.
“Hataitai bus tunnel is also a heritage structure in our District Plan, so we will do some repair work to the façade while we’re working on this project,” says Councillor Lester.
The tunnel, which was originally designed for trams, first opened to the public on 16 April 1907. Trolley buses began using it for the first time in 1963. Approximately 338 buses use the tunnel every day from Monday to Friday, 196 buses on Saturday, and 156 on Sunday.
A start date and work hours will be agreed once a contractor is appointed in October, but work will start early November with bus routes remaining unaffected during peak hours, and only minor disruptions expected during off-peak hours.
The Council will work closely with bus operators and if the tunnel has to close, information on changes to services and alternative routes will be available at Metlink.org.nz.
Council staff are talking with nearby residents in coming weeks as planning progresses.