Multi-million dollar safety upgrade for Lyttelton Tunnel

  • Simon Bridges

Transport Minister Simon Bridges today announced work is set to begin on a multi-million dollar fire deluge system that will improve safety and reduce the risk of lengthy closures at Lyttelton Tunnel.

“In addition to improving safety, the project will also increase the resilience of a route that is an economic lifeline for Christchurch, Canterbury and the South Island,” Mr Bridges says.

“Rock falls from the 2011 Christchurch earthquake closed the main alternative road link to Lyttelton. Since then the Tunnel has provided the most direct freight access to the town and port.

“A tunnel closure because of a fire could have a serious economic impact on Christchurch, Canterbury and the South Island. This deluge system once installed will reduce this risk and improve fire safety for tunnel users.”

The $28.7 million project is the largest project undertaken at the tunnel since it opened in 1964. The contract has been awarded to McConnell Dowell, with work set to start in the coming weeks.

A fire sprinkler system is the most effective means of managing fire risk in the Lyttelton Tunnel. The system is designed to control and contain a fire until fire services reach the scene.

The project involves the construction of two reservoirs, two pump stations, and the installation of 9km of pipe work and 2,400 fire sprinkler nozzles throughout the tunnel.

Most work will be conducted in the ducts above the tunnel with minimal disruption to traffic. Some night-time tunnel closures and single-lane operations will be required. The project is expected to be complete by December 2018.