Today is the anniversary of the opening of the Lyttelton Road Tunnel. The tunnel was opened in 1964 and a lot of us probably take its existence for granted. Or – perhaps not, since the earthquakes. I’ve always felt a bit anxious going through the tunnel (any tunnel) but bear it as the gateway to some really special places.
A tunnel is such a simple idea which can lead to heroic and complicated engineering solutions. Not to mention the bravery of those who construct the tunnel. A reminder of this close to home was the Lake Coleridge tunnelling accident which claimed the life of 3 men in 1925. These photographs record the rescue efforts.
The tunnel complemented the long established Lyttelton Rail Tunnel. Christchurch had a rail tunnel from early colonial times but all sorts of issues prevented a road tunnel from joining it. It is the longest road tunnel in New Zealand and was originally a toll road. This was abolished in 1979.
The Lyttelton Road Tunnel Administration Building at the Heathcote (Christchurch) end of the tunnel was designed by Christchurch architect Peter Beaven. The distinctive building was demolished in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes.
The building was demolished in early 2013. In May 2013 designs for a replacement building were released.
Are you a regular user of the tunnel? Do you remember its opening?