Call for Queenstown council to take over state highways

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Queenstown’s council needs to manage highways running through the resort to solve traffic gridlock, a former local councillor says. 

Trevor Tattersfield says the problem is the key pressure points like the BP roundabout and Stanley and Shotover Streets are on the state highway network run by the NZ Transport Agency’s regional office in Dunedin, while the council runs other roads. 

“We’ve got the ridiculous situation of two roading authorities in one small town, and the council has little control of what happens on Frankton Road, Stanley St and Shotover St.” 

Queenstown has to compete at a regional level with other local authorities like Dunedin and Invercargill, he says – “Queenstown is very literally at the end of the line”. 

“In the big cities, the state highways’ management is delegated to the local authority. 

“It doesn’t affect the funding – it just gives you local control.” 

If Queenstown Lakes District Council managed urban state highways in Queenstown and Wanaka, it could make an urgent case to central government for special assistance, Tattersfield says. 

“We spend zillions inviting all these people to come here, but if we don’t do something quick, it’s not going to be a nice place to come.” 

Tattersfield says the Kawarau Rd highway between the airport and BP roundabouts, for example, needs to be four-laned. 

“It’s ridiculous, you’ve got the airport traffic, the Remarkables Park traffic, all the Kawarau Falls Bridge traffic, all converging into one lane – it doesn’t work.” 

Trevor Kempton, chairman, Otago Regional Council regional transport committee, says: “It’s an interesting suggestion. 

“What I would say, however, is that no matter who has the authority to manage the problem, the NZTA and the local authority would nevertheless be working no more or less closely together, because, after all, the NZTA would be the primary funding agency.” 

Tattersfield, who was defeated in last year’s council elections, spent his working life in the roading industry, heading a large contracting organisation in Southland. 

He’s also a former president of the New Zealand Contractors’ Federation.