News through the official channels today, to back up what we have suspected for some time: that the Mt Vic tunnel is to be duplicated. Not straight away, mind you, but a reasonably definite timeframe : starting about 2018.

This is bound to stir up a bit of a fuss, although perhaps not as much as the plans for Flyovers has stirred up. Some people will view the extra tunnel as just as bad as a flyover, because both of them are means of catering for and thereby encouraging traffic. Some would say it is just a waste of money, and there is no doubt that it will cost a lot.

Others are bound to be massively gung ho and sing the praises of a second tunnel, in the same way that some supported the flyover, in the belief that it will speed up traffic. I’m pretty sure that the traffic won’t speed up on the route due to a flyover alone – so supporters are likely to be grossly disappointed – unless there are improvements elsewhere as well. Actually, the flyover will, in my ever-so-humble opinion, improve traffic down the Adelaide Road, more than it will on the State Highway itself.

But the flyover just plain won’t work properly until there is a second tunnel, and two lanes all the way through to Rongotai. There is a good chance that it won’t work even then either, as it will still have a blockage to the north, at Taranaki St, at Victoria St, and at Willis St, but there is a chance that a second tunnel will help.

Unlike others who were also against the flyover, I’m not against a second tunnel. Kent Dunston and members of the Mt Vic Residents Society will probably say that its a bad thing and a waste of money, but I might have to disagree. I like tunnels. They have little of the urban design hangovers that a flyover gives a city. Yes, they chew up money, but let’s face it: Wellington has hills, and Wellington needs tunnels.

We have built tunnels before, when the city had a lot less money than it does now.

There is a long list of tunnels built in our fine city – built by hand, with pick and shovel, or even with a ladder on the back of a truck.

Nowadays of course we will have an even better way of doing it – with big machines. No, sadly, not the TBM tunnel boring machines, unless we plan to dig right across to Pencarrow. It’s more likely that it will be tunneled with a road header using NATM and nobody should be dying as a result of this proposed tunnel. It should be all quite safe. What we really need to do is to ensure that we get the best tunnel for our dollars. It should be an interesting few years!