'Nice idea but financially I don't think it floats' - why a bridge or tunnel across Cook Strait won't happen

The idea of a bridge or a tunnel across Cook Strait has been shut down by the chief executive of Infrastructure New Zealand, who says "it's a nice idea but financially I don't think it floats."

The idea was recently mooted in an article by Stuff, who pitched the project to several ministers and was met with mixed reaction. 

Transport Minister Phil Twyford claimed it was the first he has ever heard of bridge or tunnel running across the stretch of water and said due to the rough conditions, a bridge could be ruled out.

National's transport spokesperson Judith Collins labeled the idea "hugely ambitious and audacious."

Speaking on TVNZ 1's Breakfast programme this morning, INZ's Stephen Selwood said both options are technically possible but cost is a significant factor which would likely rule them out. 

"Roading from the tunnel or the bridge would be pretty hard to get consented in New Zealand ...and with a bridge you have got currents and winds," Mr Selwood said. 

"So really from a technical point of view, maybe a tunnel but to give you some idea of the cost, $300 million a km for a tunnel would be a good buy these days. Waterview was more like $600, so put that into perspective. 

"So you are talking maybe $10-$20 billion, take you a 100 years at $200 a toll each way to pay it off.

"Nice idea but financially I don't think it floats.

"Small population base, long distance, very difficult water. Fantastic idea but I'm sorry we've got bigger priorities elsewhere...there is a lot of improvements we need on our state highways first."

It would help those who don't like ferries, but Stephen Selwood of Infrastructure NZ doesn't think it will happen in our lifetime. Source: Breakfast

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