Plea for Queenstown council to fix Dalefield’s danger’ road

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A QUEENSTOWNER who rolled her car on a frozen ramshackle road wants the council to act before someone’s badly hurt.
 
Sara Litchfield, 29, was hospitalised last Wednesday after wrecking her Mitsubishi Chariot on Fitzpatrick Road, Dalefield. 

Resident John Quinn launched a petition last year calling for the dusty road to be sealed, after a series of accidents. 

And it was Quinn who rescued Litchfield from her trashed car last week – the third crash he’s seen in as many years. 

Litchfield says: “The car’s dead – but at least I’m not. 

“Fortunately nothing’s broken and I wasn’t concussed, I’m just battered and bruised. The seatbelt saved me because I could only get thrown around so much. 

“Something needs to be done. The road keeps all the water on the surface, so even when it’s just wet it’s easy to aquaplane. 

“It needs to be improved. I hit some sheet ice on a bend and the scariest thing was I had no control whatsoever.” 

Litchfield, who lives on Fitzpatrick Rd, was driving to work shortly before 9am in sub-zero temperatures. 

“I’d slowed before the bend but once I lost control there was nothing I could,” she says. 

“The police said I was weaving for about 110 metres. I could see a stone pillar coming and thought I was going to hit it. I was bsolutely terrified. 

“Flipping was horrible – the windows smashed and buckled. It landed on the passenger side so I was hanging in my seatbelt just having a mini meltdown. 

“When John found me he had to tell me to turn my engine off.” 

Queenstown Lakes District Council’s chief engineer Ulrich Glasner says the road’s scheduled to be ‘Otta sealed’ this financial year – which is the petition’s aim. 

That sees a graded aggregate bound onto the surface. 

“But that won’t help in such conditions,” Glasner says, “it’s mainly for dust control. 

“Our maintenance contractor checked the road the next morning after the crash. 

“The temperature was -6 degrees. The road was frozen solid but the surface was dry and not icy. 

“They did break testing going downhill and had no issues. They had no concerns with the surface. 

“It’s not the road itself.” 

Quinn says residents believe the Otta seal will fix the issues but he’s not holding his breath over council promises. 

“We were told it would be done in 2013 and we’re still waiting,” Quinn says. 

“The current surface is prone to freezing and it’s built up in the middle so the only place you go is the ditch. 

“People are driving to conditions but still rolling – I’ve pulled three people out of the ditch myself. It’s extremely unsafe, a disaster waiting to happen. 

“We’re just asking ‘can we have a proper road please?’ It will without doubt improve the road.” 

So far, 29 people have signed the petition on Change.org which calls for the council to push Fitzgerald Rd to the top of the list for sealing