Minister confirms ‘critical’ road widening

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The long-awaited four-laning of a stretch of State Highway 6 near Queenstown is expected to begin next year.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges says in a statement the exact start date is “pending the outcome of the investigation stage” and the work has an estimated completion date of 2021.

Bridges says the four-laning of SH6, between Grant Road at the Five Mile shopping complex and the new two-lane Kawarau Falls Bridge, is being investigated, along with improved public transport facilities and services, walking and cycling connections.

While Queenstown mayor Jim Boult says the news is a win for the district, he wants the construction timetable brought forward.

“I’m aware that if they’re going to start in 2018 there’s a lot of preparatory work that’s got to go on, like acquiring land and a whole lot of planning and what have you, so as long as it starts in 2018 I think that’s really good, really positive, and I thank the minister for that.

“I would be interested in exploring ways of finishing it before 2021.

“Three years seems a long timeframe to construct it and from the discussions I’ve had with engineers there may be ways to accelerate the build.”

Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay – who last year petitioned the NZ Transport Agency to bring forward the four-laning work and called for the ban on vehicles parking between the airport and the BP roundabout – says the 2021 timeframe is “still of concern”.

“But it’s certainly better than the 10-year horizon they were originally talking about.”

Barclay says the agency has “never once” indicated funding the work is a potential issue.

Boult says the council believes the work is critical.

After being elected last October, he discovered it had been programmed for early in the next decade – something he described as unacceptable.

Since then Queenstown’s council and Queenstown Airport had begun work on an airport park-and-ride facility at Frankton, which is a variation to the eastern access road, formally known as Hawthorne Drive.

The $1.3 million facility will provide parking for airport users, with 150 parks to be used to offset the impact of removing car parking spaces from Glenda Dr.

It is also expected that the facility, scheduled for completion next month, will result in the removal of car parking along Kawarau Rd, on State Highway 6.

The agency is likely to give enforcement control of that to the council.

Boult: “The issue of the removal of cars from State Highway 6 is … not quite as simple as it sounds, because they can’t be removed until we’ve got somewhere else for them to go.

“You can’t just say ‘Well, you’re not going to park there’. Where do they park?

“So, with park-and-ride, they’ll have somewhere to go, but the council is mindful that the last
thing in the world we want to do is push all of those cars into the built-up areas, or residential areas, of Frankton.”

To that end, the council is working on a programme to enable Frankton residents to park and
“not have all their spots taken up by travellers”.

The wider Queenstown transport integrated programme business case, which also includes modifications to the existing BP roundabout, scheduled for completion this month, is due to be considered by the Wakatipu Transport Strategic Partners Governance Group this month.

Otago Daily Times