Queenstown residents pushing for the new Kawarau River bridge to be built downstream say the council’s stance is “absolute nonsense”.
Queenstown Lakes mayor Vanessa van Uden, in a statement on Friday, effectively washed her hands of the debate on where the replacement bridge should be located.
The New Zealand Transport Agency plans to build the $25 million State Highway 6 road bridge next to the existing Kawarau Falls bridge.
But a group of residents believe it should be downstream – linking with a planned eastern arterial road, which would ease congestion in Frankton.
Queenstown Lakes district councillors and the NZTA met behind closed doors earlier this month after the council asked the agency to state its case.
Mrs van Uden said the council now accepted the NZTA’s “professional advice”.
“We are comfortable with the advice we have received that the best place for the new bridge is alongside the existing crossing,” she says.
Residents’ group member Hudson Turnbull said the NZTA had not analysed both routes.
“They [the QLDC] say they have accepted the NZTA’s professional advice without NZTA being professional enough to do a proper analysis of the route we are proposing.
“How can they possibly say it is the best site when our group, using the NZTA’s own evaluation methods, has shown the downstream site to be far superior.”
The NZTA was sticking to the site because of the “political nature” of the project, with the Government expecting a bridge to be delivered “as quickly as possible”, he says.
He also scoffed at the suggestion of a second bridge in the future, which Van Uden says is being looked at as part of the broader outlook on transportation in the Wakatipu.
“This is pie in the sky stuff,” former councillor Turnbull says.
“The NZTA is mischievous in putting this about and they know it,” Turnbull says.
“It’s not their function to lock in a future QLDC to some theoretical expenditure, especially given the already stretched infrastructure budgets.”
The bridge should be built on the site the group proposed, State Highway 6 should be shifted eastward and the old one lane bridge should be kept for Kelvin Peninsula traffic, he says.