State Highway 94 (New Zealand)

State Highway 94 is a New Zealand state highway connecting the large Southland town of Gore with one of New Zealand's most popular destinations, Milford Sound. It also passes the significant townships of Lumsden and Te Anau as well going through the Homer Tunnel (in this area it is also called the 'Milford Road', with the section from Te Anau up to the Sound being 119 kilometres or 74 miles). The road also goes through Fiordland and crosses the Main Divide of the Southern Alps.

It is regarded as one of the most scenic roads in New Zealand, and with a peak elevation of 940 metres (3,080 ft), the country's third highest highway after the Desert Road (SH 1) and the Lindis Pass (SH 8). However, the "Milford Road" part is also one of the more dangerous public roads in New Zealand, with injury crash rates around 65% higher than the rest of New Zealand's network, and a fatality crash rate of almost twice average (per vehicle kilometre travelled)...Read more

State Highway 94 is a New Zealand state highway connecting the large Southland town of Gore with one of New Zealand's most popular destinations, Milford Sound. It also passes the significant townships of Lumsden and Te Anau as well going through the Homer Tunnel (in this area it is also called the 'Milford Road', with the section from Te Anau up to the Sound being 119 kilometres or 74 miles). The road also goes through Fiordland and crosses the Main Divide of the Southern Alps.

It is regarded as one of the most scenic roads in New Zealand, and with a peak elevation of 940 metres (3,080 ft), the country's third highest highway after the Desert Road (SH 1) and the Lindis Pass (SH 8). However, the "Milford Road" part is also one of the more dangerous public roads in New Zealand, with injury crash rates around 65% higher than the rest of New Zealand's network, and a fatality crash rate of almost twice average (per vehicle kilometre travelled), making it the third most dangerous section of New Zealand's State Highway network (as of 2008).

The road alignment was first surveyed in 1890 by London-born engineer Robert Holmes, who later became the Engineer-in-Chief of the Public Works Department. Holmes initially preferred a route starting at Lake Wakatipu and running northwest, but the decision was instead made to start from Te Anau.[1]

However, the project then languished in planning for 40 years, possibly because in 1889 road building had been removed from the brief of the Public Works Department, and only reinstated with much more limited authority in 1909.[1] It took until 1935 to construct a rough road to the entrance of what would become Homer Tunnel.[1] The tunnel itself was excavated by pick and shovel, mostly by workers directed there by the government during the Great Depression. Life for the workers was harsh, and avalanches claimed some lives in the mid 1930s.[2] While the breakthrough was achieved in February 1940, the labour shortage caused by World War II caused significant delays, and it was not until 1953 that the tunnel was finally completed.[1]

Long stretches of Milford Road, including the tunnel, remained gravel-surfaced until the 1980s. Improvements to the Homer Tunnel portals are ongoing and remain on the NZ Transport Agency's plans, with the aim of reducing closures of this important tourist route.[3] The latest construction project to minimise the impact of avalanches was an extension of the western tunnel entrance portal.[4]

^ a b c d Wrigglesworth, Karen (January–February 2011). "Making the way to Milford". Engineering Insight. IPENZ. 12 (1): 37–38. ^ "SH 94 Milford Road". NZ Transport Agency. Retrieved 2 October 2017. ^ ""NZTA Annual Report 2014" (PDF). NZ Transport Agency. p. 232. Retrieved 2 October 2017. ^ "Temporary portal extension for Homer Tunnel". NZ Transport Agency. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
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