Bus lanes coming: Heavy traffic on Kawarau Road-State Highway 6 through Frankton

It was a red-letter day for Queenstown infrastructure yesterday as the government announced a $90 million spend-up on our roads.

And Otago Regional Council decided to save the Queenstown Water Ferry at the eleventh hour.

The government announced the Wakatipu’s funding as part of a $12 billion infrastructure package.

It’s tagged the resort’s money for spending on bus lanes along State Highway 6 from the Kawarau Falls Bridge to the BP roundabout, some from the roundabout along Frankton Road to Queenstown, improvements to the Frankton bus hub, four new sets of traffic lights at strategic intersections along Frankton Rd, a new roundabout at the intersection of Ladies Mile and Howards Drive – by Queenstown Country Club and Lake Hayes Estate – and an underpass at Ladies Mile for pedestrians and cyclists.

Construction’s expected to begin late next year, and be completed in stages in 2023-24.

While Boult says that’s “marvellous”, he’s going to keep pushing for the “biggie” long-mooted arterial bypass of the town centre.

“I really want to protect downtown Queenstown as it is, in my view, the most important built asset in New Zealand’s tourism makeup.

“Making that largely pedestrian is really important.”

Transport minister Phil Twyford tells Mountain Scene’s sister paper, the Otago Daily Times, the projects are aimed at easing congestion at “pinch points” on our roads caused by unrelenting tourism growth.

A main focus is on the continued success of the Wakatipu’s $2 Orbus network and “setting it up for continuing growth” by making it more reliable and efficient.

“It’s about easing some of those growth pressures and helping pave the way for continuing expansion of public transport services.”

Asked about the town centre arterial bypass, Twyford says he’s working with Boult and Queenstown’s council on a 30-year spatial plan for the district — transport networks are a key part of that.

Meantime, last night Otago Regional Council councillors decided to subsidise the Queenstown’s water ferry service until the end of the financial year.

Following a meeting behind closed doors in Dunedin, it also approved adding a water ferry service to its annual plan, to start next year.

Go Orange, which started operating the ferry on Lake Wakatipu 14 months ago, told Scene late last year it couldn’t continue without a public subsidy similar to that backing Orbus.

At that stage it said it would wind the ferry service up on February 29, but keep running to and from the Hilton Hotel, unless the regional council came to the party.

Its then-general manager, Luke Taylor, told Scene that Queenstown’s council and the NZTA had indicated support for a subsidy, provided the regional council also backed one.

Wayfare boss Richard Lauder says it’s a “relief”.

“Thank you to all those locals who showed their support.

“I’m looking forward to the ORC getting in touch — we’re ready to talk immediately.”