Tunnel vision put to council
Plans to turn a mothballed Auckland bomb shelter into a ‘‘subterranean city’’, complete with cycleway and glowworm attraction is gaining momentum.
Beneath Albert Park in Auckland’s CBD lie 3.5 kilometres of air raid tunnels that have been sitting idle since they were closed off after World War II.
Bill Reid, who’s worked on reopening the tunnels for the past 30 years, and his business partner Nick Andreef, will present a proposal to build a ‘‘subterranean city’’ to Auckland Council’s city centre advisory board on Wednesday.
The tunnels were built to house up to 22,000 people in case Auckland was bombed during the war.
The main tunnel, running from Victoria St East in the CBD to Beach Rd in Parnell, and lined with timber beams, is 4.4 metres wide and 3m tall.
Reid proposes converting this tunnel into a pedestrian and cycleway link between the city, University of Auckland and Parnell with two sets of elevators connecting the tunnel to Princess St and Symonds St.
The tunnel, estimated to cost up to $19 million, would effectively be an extension of the concourse to Aotea Station, being built as part of the City Rail Link. It was estimated up to 3500 people would commute through the tunnel each day.
As well as the commuter tun- nel the ‘‘subterranean city’’ would include a war museum and memorial to the 28th Maori battalion.
Wine and cheese caves have even been included in the proposal, with interest already shown from wineries, Reid said.
Finally a ‘‘glowworm encounter’’ has been proposed, delivering a Waitomo Caves-style experience.
In December Bill Reid met with council’s economic development agency Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) about the proposal.
At the time Ateed spokesman Steve Armitage said opening the tunnels was an interesting concept, however more work was needed to develop the idea.
‘‘At face value the idea aligns with the goal of developing new attractions that encourage visitors to our region to stay longer and spend more,’’ Armitage said.
There are 3.5 kilometres of tunnels under Albert Park. Bill Reid