The NEW Zealand Transport Agency has caved in over Queenstown’s ‘Battle of the Bridge’.
NZTA has recently pledged to widen its proposed $20 million two-lane Kawarau Falls Bridge to cater for cyclists and walkers, according to an Otago Regional Council statement.
As revealed by Mountain Scene last August, ORC threatened court action if NZTA didn’t rethink its original bridge design – which had cyclists mixing it with vehicles travelling at 70kmh.
Warning the proposed 1.5 metre shoulder would be “intimidating and potentially unsafe for cyclists”, ORC also alleged walkers would be left out because of no walkway.
However, the regional council has ultimately won the day with NZTA and has withdrawn its court action.
ORC adds NZTA is also “working closely” with Queenstown Lakes District Council “to seek a secure future” for the old one-lane bridge, particularly its existing pedestrian and cycle facilities.
The new bridge is scheduled to be built between next year and 2018.
Meanwhile, all traffic crossing Kawarau Falls Bridge is being hit by lengthy night closures for the next five weeks.
NZTA says in a statement the bridge will close from Sunday nights to Friday mornings, with traffic flows limited to 10 minutes each hour on the hour from 11pm to 6am while deck repairs are being carried out.
NZTA senior network manager for Otago John Jarvis says the partial closure is unavoidable because the bridge is single lane.
However, access will be maintained for emergency services at all times and the pedestrian footbridge will also remain open, he adds.
“The repairs are part of an ongoing maintenance programme on the bridge and will involve the part replacement of the bridge running boards and decking. This work will result in a smoother ride for bridge users and less rattle and clatter from the decking.”