Premier Dalton McGuinty and federal Transport Minister John Baird say spending public dollars on a pedestrian tunnel to the island airport is worth considering — a move that would back Toronto Mayor David Miller into a corner.

Miller, who was first elected in 2003 on a platform to kill a proposed bridge to the island airport, opposes measures that would contribute to expanding what he terms “a sleepy commuter airport.”

The proposed 170-metre tunnel would run deep beneath the lake, serving mainly passengers of upstart Porter Airlines. It would make it possible to increase flights because passengers would not be dependent on a ferry ride, though the present ferry would still be used to transport fuel, equipment and emergency vehicles.

The port authority hopes to get $19 million from Ottawa and $12 million from Queen’s Park. It would foot the remaining $7 million, though its board of directors has not yet voted to commit that money.

Proposals from potential contractors are due next Thursday, and the environmental assessment could take about four months. Engineers estimate a tunnel could be built in a year.

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