Auckland regional and city councils are backing plans for a US$102M road tunnel under Auckland’s Victoria Park, which has so far been opposed by Transit New Zealand on cost grounds.

The state transport authority said that construction of the tunnel would be US$41M more expensive than widening an existing viaduct over the park. But in a move aimed at breaking the deadlock, Auckland regional council’s strategic policy committee is believed to have offered to cover the shortfall through a series of money raising initiatives. These include a debt-servicing fund, petrol tax and toll on motorists entering the central business district.

“There has never been any doubt that the community wants a tunnel but the challenge has been to see how this could be achieved,” Ian Bradley, committee chairman, said.

The regional council is believed to have told Transit New Zealand that it would take longer to get the go-ahead for the viaduct widening project than it would the tunnel.