$6m junction by the numbers

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NZ Transport Agency has broken down the eye-watering $6 million cost of a new Queenstown intersection.

On Tuesday, to the delight of Quail Rise residents, the agency announced it will improve the dicey junction of Tucker Beach Road and State Highway 6 by creating a slip road joining the existing underpass.

But the multi-million dollar construction budget flummoxed many Queenstowners, who took to social media to put the boot in.

NZTA project boss Phil Dowsett says the money’s needed to build up the steep embankment on the poo ponds side, and protect the highway.

Road construction is an estimated $2.3m, while $700,000 will be spent on retaining walls, and $700,000 on LED lighting, guardrails and landscaping.

Dowsett says: “These are the base estimated costs and a contingency has been allowed in addition for the unexpected and unknown items of work or cost that arise on most projects.

“The project is a significant engineering undertaking to ensure the integrity of the existing embankment supporting the state highway is not compromised and safety for all road users is maintained.”

Queenstown’s council is pumping in $1.6m to cover water and waste water pipes, which will be laid in the highway to support Quail Rise growth. That makes the contingency some $700,000.

The construction work will be tendered this week and the aim is to have the slip road open for Christmas.

At present, vehicles and cyclists turning right from Tucker Beach Road on to the highway have to cross a fast, busy carriageway from standstill, then head uphill.

Quail Rise residents have campaigned for years to have the junction upgraded.

Spokesman Kerry Dunlop said, on Tuesday, people are “delighted”.

“The underpass and slip road will dramatically reduce the risk of injury or death for cyclists, car and bus commuters.”

Queenstown’s mayor Jim Boult says the decision is “great news”.

But, he says, it has taken longer than expected. The issue was raised repeatedly during council elections in 2016.

Ironically, another road into Quail Rise, connecting to the Hawthorne Drive roundabout on SH6 near Pak’nSave, is slated to be built.

ed@scene.co.nz