Road hell is apocalyptic fantasy


PARTING SHOT: Pretty soon none of us will need to pay rent or a mortgage.

Instead, traffic along Frankton Road and other Queenstown arteries will become so bad we’ll be forced to live in our cars.

By the time we reach home, it’ll be time to drive to work again - one long circular traffic jam like something from a dystopian sci-fi flick.

The wife or hubby can take a driving shift while everyone else sleeps in the back seat.

We’ll survive on petrol forecourt pies, scavenge possums and domestic cats who’ve strayed into the road, or cannibalise self-drive tourists who can’t recite the New Zealand Road Code by heart.

Then, one day in about 10 years’ time, will be the time of the Great Standstill. One more campervan leaving Jucy rentals at the airport will spark an apocalyptic gridlock.

It’ll lead to the breakdown of our society.

Mad Max-style biker gangs, led by Adam Feeley, stripped to the waist and painted like a tribal warlord, will roam the roads picking off those stuck in their cars.

The only safe way to travel will be a secret network of zip-lines in the wilding pines on Queenstown Hill, set up by the benevolent Trent Yeo.

Kelvin Heights residents will blow the Kawarau Falls Bridge, mine the Frankton Arm, and leave us all to our fate.

Or at least that’s what the doomsayers would appear to have you believe. Sort of.

For me, and I know this won’t be a popular opinion, I don’t think Queenstown really has a traffic problem.

Certainly not one that requires the immediate concreting over of Frankton’s golf course.

A couple of times a year, usually New Year, it gets really busy but generally I come in from Frankton each day at 8.15am, three of us in the car, and it takes about eight minutes, if that. It’s the same on the way home.

Obviously the road works at Five Mile are causing delays and the Kawarau Falls Bridge provides a bottleneck but both those issues are being solved.

A park-and-ride at Frankton would only really help Frankton Rd, which doesn’t seem to be as bad as everyone is saying. And placing it next to Frankton roundabout would surely cause more problems.

Queenstown’s hardly Los Angeles or Beijing - where in August 2010 a 100-kilometre traffic jam lasted for 12 days and left motorists needing three days to traverse the Beijing-Tibet ‘expressway’.

It’s hardly the M6 in the United Kingdom where before the toll road journey times would regularly be doubled from two-and-a-half to five hours in peak times, especially if there was a crash.

I understand the push to ‘future-proof’ Queenstown, especially with plans for new subdivisions.

But for me the semi-rural nature of this district makes using a bus impractical, especially for all tradies and anyone not office-bound all day.

And the cost - $124 for seven-days’ unlimited travel for two adults and a child - is similar to travelling by car.

Calls to charge heaps for parking in town, forcing us all on to buses, feels like again those who live here are being punished for the growth in tourism.

And who knows whether it’s even necessary? Within a decade, self-drive car technology might mean we’ll drive to Frankton, log on to a network, and a computer will manage the traffic.

Perhaps there are other solutions:

  • Save the Kingston Flyer by running it along Frankton Rd
  • Make the loop out to Frankton to Arrowtown and back through Gorge Rd a big one-way motorway
  • Snowguns and slopes - we can all ski to work and back
  • Where’s my Martin Jetpack? Two years ago he was meant to be coming to Queenstown Jetboats can ferry us all to work
  • No tax on motorbikes
  • Put more cycle stands around town
  • Ban all rental vehicles from the town centre - make them bus
  • Free buses paid for with a tourism tax

Any more suggestions?