Ald. Bob Hawkesworth opposes the construction of an tunnel linking 96th Avenue to 36th Street N.E. at Calgary International Airport.

Veteran alderman and mayoral candidate Bob Hawkesworth has launched an online petition to keep the proposed airport tunnel from being built.

Hawkesworth held a news conference Thursday  in the empty field where the tunnel's east portal would stand, if the estimated $287-million project comes to fruition.

"I believe it's the height of irresponsibility, when you don't have any money, to be promising people you can build something that you can't build," Hawkesworth, first elected to city council in 1980, told CBC News.

"And it offers only limited benefit."

With a new web page, the Ward 4 alderman plans to petition the next city council to continue opposition to the project.

Council rejected a suggestion last month to spend $150 million to rough in a tunnel underneath a new runway slated for the Calgary International Airport.

The proposal, put forth by Ald. Jim Stevenson, would have seen the city lay the groundwork for an underground artery linking 96th Avenue to 36th Street N.E., but finish the project at a later date.

The route would compensate for the closure of Barlow Trail between 48th Avenue and Airport Road, which will happen in April 2011 to make way for the fourth runway at the airport.

"There is much confusion and misinformation out in the public about the costs and benefits of this tunnel," Hawkesworth was quoted as saying in a news release. "For instance, the vast majority of trips on the Barlow Trail do not go to the airport, and this is just one example."

He went on to say that most Calgary residents live in the south and west of the city, so will be unaffected by the tunnel, and that those who do live in the northeast can be serviced by existing and planned road and transit connections.

Ald. Bob Hawkesworth has launched this online petition against construction of the airport tunnel.

Hawkesworth added that if the city goes ahead with the tunnel, other infrastructure projects like the southeast LRT will suffer.

The municipal election is Oct. 18.