Frustrated local MP Todd Barclay is going on the warpath to solve chronic traffic and parking congestion on State Highway 6 by Queenstown Airport.
He’s drawing up a petition demanding state highway manager NZ Transport Agency takes immediate action on both fronts.
Barclay’s launching a petition following a huge response to a Facebook post early this week, accompanied by a photo of a clogged-up Kawarau Road.
He’s taking action after a letter to the agency and airport a few months back “fell on deaf ears”.
Barclay says he asked the airport to increase its parking to accommodate cars parked by the highway.
“The reply was about five lines just acknowledging there’s a problem but posing no firm solution.”
He was then horrified after a conference call with agency regional bosses to find they’re likely to delay the start of the four-laning of the highway between the BP and airport roundabouts from 2017/2018 to 2018/2019.
“NZTA have basically fobbed it off and instead of bringing it forward they’ve actually pushed it back which is quite excessive, really, considering the problems that exist now, let alone in the peak of summer and winter.”
(Barclay says he’s calling for roadside parking to be banned for both safety and visual reasons.
He’s concerned, however, that motorists will park in nearby streets instead, so he’s inviting immediate neighbours to a meeting to get their views.
“What I think should probably happen is council should put in ‘resident parking’ so it allows them some security of parking.”
Once that meeting’s been held, Barclay says he wants the agency and the airport to come up with a programme that’s implemented as soon as possible.
“It needs to be signalled that the cars are going to be banned from there, there is going to be double-laning and the airport needs to communicate what their (plan is to extend their capacity. Because for the fourth-busiest airport in the country, I think they’re grossly under-catering for parking both short-term and long-term.”
Meanwhile, in a letter to a Queenstown resident this month, Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the agency advises “there are no safety reasons to ban parking”.
“However, drivers have recently changed to angle parking along this section of highway.
“This poses a risk of vehicles reversing on to the highway.”
In an emailed statement yesterday, agency southern business unit boss Ian Duncan says: “In the short term, the angle parking will be managed through (the placement of signs to reinforce that only parallel parking is allowed adjacent to the highway.”
Duncan also says the agency, Queenstown’s council and Queenstown Airport Corporation are working “to explore how to better manage parking in this area”.
Council infrastructure boss Peter Hansby says roadside parking is being addressed “in order to avoid simply transferring a problem from the side of the state highway to residential roads in Frankton”.
Council would talk to the (Frankton Community Association before developing any significant changes.
Meanwhile, airport boss Colin Keel says the airport’s increasing both its short- and long-term parking by more than 10 per cent.
“Work will be underway in the next month.”
He adds it’s also “looking at different options that could provide a viable alternative to people who are parking in there who are using the airport”.
Those include a park-and-ride, he confirms.
Destination Queenstown boss Graham Budd says the crowded vehicle line-up either side of the main entrance to town is “highly disappointing and quite appalling-looking”.
He also knocks the NZ Transport Agency – or the council – for not doing its job.
Budd: “It is not consistent with presenting a premium visitor destination and, frankly, I think it wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t – for any place it just looks shabby, untidy and disorganised.
“But I think the broader issue is that it raises the question of who is responsible for how our place looks and feels.
“NZTA, who own the roadway and clearly all the land that the road sits in, clearly have no interest in the aesthetics of the place, or how it looks.
“If NZTA do not own that, does council own that responsibility? Because it worries the hell out of me that no one’s taking responsibility.”