Lobbying secures bridge location review


Queenstown’s council has asked for the location of a new $25 million bridge over the Kawarau River to be reviewed.

Proponents of an alternative location for the Kawarau Falls Bridge replacement are claiming victory after Thursday’s council decision.

The council approved a transfer of land to the Crown to allow the construction of the new bridge immediately downstream from the existing bridge.

But lobbying from a group of Queenstown residents – who favour a site running off Boyd Rd about 1.5km to the east – prompted councillors to ask the New Zealand Transport Agency to review the analysis it used to justify the location.

Group member and former district councillor Kirsty Sharpe said they were “delighted” at the outcome, and expected the agency to undertake a “thorough review of all the options for siting the bridge replacement, and consider benefits rather than just costings”.

Work on the $25 million, 250m-long curved bridge is expected to start late this year, with an opening set for early 2017.

It was given priority by the National Government in an election pledge last June.

Speaking at the council meeting’s public forum, Kerry Dunlop says the agency’s decision to build the new bridge next to the old one had been made in 2003 and was “out of date”.

The group’s preferred location will connect with the eastern arterial road, reducing congestion at the Frankton and airport roundabouts.

Although halting the current project will cause a delay, it is “better to delay than to regret.”

Sharpe told councillors that rising traffic volumes between the existing bridge and the Frankton roundabout was “cutting Frankton in half”, and building the new bridge in the same place will make the situation worse.

The agency’s choice of location pre-dated the growth of the Remarkables Park shopping area, the building of Remarkables Primary School, the relocation of Wakatipu High School to Frankton, commercial development along the Frankton-Ladies Mile Highway and record passenger growth through Queenstown Airport.

Councillor Cath Gilmour says the Boyd Rd option is “common sense”, and will avoid “splitting Frankton in half on a hell of a busy road”.

Deputy mayor Lyal Cocks warned against a “knee-jerk reaction” based solely on the location of the new bridge.

Other projects, such as the eastern access road and the draft regional transport plan, will have an impact on traffic volumes in the area.

Otago Daily Times