By CASS MARRETT
Several residents on Arrowtown’s McDonnell Road have raised concerns about their children’s safety, especially when a summer holiday time alternate route’s in place.
So far, they’re not satisfied with the response from Queenstown’s council.
‘‘My fear is that some little child is going to chase a ball and run out on the road,’’ grandmother and resident Jennie Burt says.
‘‘There’s going to be an absolute tragedy, there will be, it’s only a matter of when it’ll happen.’’
Burt says she’s sent repeated emails to Queenstown’s council about vehicles driving at dangerous speeds down the 40kmh-restricted road, but has gotten ‘‘nowhere’’.
Five out of six residents spoken to by Mountain Scene say they’ve contacted the council about the issue and received similar, ‘‘copy-pasted’’ answers.
The council refused to answer the Scene’s questions about the issue this week.
In a statement, media man Sam White says ‘‘we acknowledge feedback from the community about this alternative travel route, and will be following up directly with members of the public who have expressed concerns’’.
The road, which connects Arrow Junction and Malaghans Road, is used during holiday periods as an alternate route for traffic into Queenstown.
The residents say the diversion’s usually in place from mid-December to mid- January, but last year it was signposted from early October as part of a ‘‘trial’’.
‘‘The thing that concerns me is there’s absolutely no metrics involved,’’ says another resident, who did not want to be named.
‘‘What have they been measuring? When are they planning on informing anyone? What are they going to do about it?’’ they ask.
Burt says she was notified of the trial by a pamphlet the day before it started.
‘‘There had been no consultation … there was no opportunity for us to discuss anything, or have any reason fed to us.’’
In 2020, after she raised her concerns with Arrowtown councillor Heath Copland, police carried out some surveillance and ‘‘picked up quite a few speeding’’.
The same year, a council officer explained to her in an email that monitoring of the route in 2019 for an unrelated business case showed ‘‘no clear uptake’’ of the alternative route before December 20.
The email discussed options to slow down traffic, but Burt says nothing came of that.
Residents say outside the holiday period the problem continues, with vehicles often seen travelling at an estimated 70-80kmh.
Nelly Dupuy says her daughter’s too scared to bike on the footpath beside the road, while another mother says her four-year-old often waves at drivers to slow down.
There’s a 40kmh sign at the intersection of Malaghans and Arrowtown-Lake Hayes roads, but once vehicles cross into McDonnell Rd, the next sign — which residents say can be hard to spot — is about 500 metres further along the road.
One resident’s even gone out to trim trees around the sign to make it more visible.
Despite several speed bumps in the road, signposted at 15kmh, they have a minimal slowing effect, the residents say.
They want more 40kmh signage, more speed bumps, ‘children playing’ signs, and some form of speed monitoring.
Lea Lawniczak tells Scene it’s now up to the council to take action.
‘‘Our concerns have been raised.
‘‘So really, if council aren’t going to do anything and a child gets killed … ’’
Residents are not bothered about the diversion itself, they just want traffic to slow down, Burt says.
‘‘If they’re going to divert traffic along here, they need to do something to make sure people are kept safe.’’
White says the diversion’s no longer in place given the peak summer holiday period’s over.
It’s reviewing the data collected to assess traffic flows, and will be ‘‘feeding this
information back to the community.’’