Agency flicks off Ferg flak

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The state highways agency agreed to a controversial footpath extension outside Queenstown’s world-famous burger joint – as long as the local council took any flak.

In July, Queenstown Lakes District Council agreed to swallow three Shotover Street carparks to extend the footpath outside popular takeaway outlet Fergburger.

The company agreed to pay the $100,000 cost.

It was originally hoped the work would be done by summer, to ease pedestrian congestion caused by the throngs of people queuing.

But as reported last month the work’s been deferred.

Official documents released to Mountain Scene reveal the New Zealand Transport Agency was approached for comment in May.

That’s because Shotover St isn’t just Queenstown’s main downtown commercial thoroughfare – it’s a continuation of State Highway 6A.

While engineers Opus raised potential issues, the agency’s Otago senior network manager John Jarvis said he couldn’t see any reason to object.

This was on the proviso “that QLDC make the final call and would need to defend any criticism or precedent from the public or businesses”, he says in his May 12 email.

The work was on a tight timeframe. Tendering and pricing had to be finished by October 31 to meet the original December 1 finish date.

On October 3, Fergburger paid a deposit on paving stones to, in the words of general manager Steve Bradley, “get this process moving”.

But by the end of the month – when tenders should have been firmed up – tenderer Downer raised a red flag.

Downer’s Central Lakes manager Kirsty Marlow wrote it was “not able to find the necessary resource” to meet the December 5 completion date.

She adds: “It would not be professional of us to return what would be a heavily-weighted price to QLDC, inadvertently win it and then fail to deliver.

“We would, however, be happy to provide a competitive price if we were able to stipulate when the job was to take place.”

At the end of November, council staff said work should be deferred because of the unavailability of contractors and paving stones couldn’t be supplied on time.

The burger joint – which originally only wanted to take over two carparks – agreed.

Council’s infrastructure manager Peter Hansby tells Mountain Scene the four tenderers will be approached for a new price later this month, with work to start on April 7 and finish by May 12.

Engineers estimate the work can be completed for less than $100,000, Hansby says.

david@scene.co.nz