Frustration builds over ceaseless Queenstown infrastructure upgrades
Frustration’s growing amongst accommodation providers and others hemmed in by interminable infrastructure and road works at the entrance to Queenstown.
Since early last year, government- and council-funded work’s been going on along a small stretch of Frankton Road between Suburb Street and the ‘gateway’ to the new Melbourne St arterial route.
Road users have been restricted to half the road while intersections to Suburb and Dublin Sts have been cut off altogether.
Queenstown Motel Apartments guests, with great difficulty, have had vehicle access via Suburb St, but the much more convenient Dublin St intersection reopened on Tuesday last week.
Manager Deepanshu Sajjan says he was then rung by the Alliance, Kā Huanui o Tāhuna, to say they were re-closing it from today.
‘‘They can’t find a pipe which is connecting from Melbourne St, or something, so they said they need to dig it again.’’
But, instead of waiting till today, the intersection was re-closed this Tuesday, inconveniencing guests who thought it was open.
As to when the intersection will reopen permanently, ‘‘they said they don’t have a clue’’.
Sajjan says the worst thing is the lack of communication.
‘‘I keep asking them, just give me an exact, accurate thing [so I can tell guests], it’s getting really, really hard for us.’’
‘‘Their managers, they never pick up my phone [calls], never ever get back to me.’’
Life a “complete hell” for local operators
He says he’s having to drop his rates to retain his guests — a lake view studio, which was about $250 a night, is now $165.
Sajjan understands the work outside his motels will be complete by September, then move to the other side of Frankton Rd.
Meantime, Deborah Borja, who manages Hurley’s of Queenstown on the Frankton Rd/Melbourne St corner, says guests are constantly
complaining about the road works, and many check out early.
‘‘A lot of people are complain ing, attacking me, there’s nothing I can do.’’
She asks complaining guests if they can pay for their first night, as it’s too late to resell their room, but is happy to refund the rest of their stay — ‘‘otherwise we’re not going to have any income’’.
Borja says guests are pre-warned when they book, ‘‘but some people don’t read it’’.
Her biggest concern is skiers staying this July and August when workers will be digging right in front of the units, who might want to take a day off skiing and try to sleep in.
She’s asking council if they can enlarge the signage directing guests to Hurley’s as many don’t notice it.
‘‘Every day we have calls, ‘how can we get to your place?’’’
Occasionally, she’ll even meet them nearby and jump in their vehicle to show them the way.
Isha Narad, who manages Chalet Queenstown, on Dublin St, is also ‘‘definitely frustrated and annoyed’’ about the road works.
She says water pipes have burst six times in their driveway due to the movement of rocks under the surface, caused by vibrations from
Other problems include workers’ vehicles blocking their driveway, water shutdowns with no notice and no clear signage on how to access them from the airport.
‘‘Noise and dust have made life completely hell, with guests complaining about both and giving us bad reviews, which is affecting the
Alwyn Metcalfe, 87, (pictured) who’s lived on the Frankton Rd/Dublin St corner, is also appalled at how long the road works are taking, and what it must be costing.
Just this week, he says two street lights were also taken down, ‘‘so it’s blacked out at night for the tourists walking around — it is
Reasons for arterial construction delays
Council says construction of the first stage of the arterial route has been delayed for a number of reasons, including:
● Archaeological discoveries behind old schist walls and in historic schist tunnels have required months-long delays in parts of the site while the finds were assessed. Approval was therefore needed for new site-wide archaeological protocol;
● Discovery of historic asbestos pipes requiring careful removal;
● Design changes to accommodate specific property requirements;
● Maintaining traffic access to as many streets as possible, for as long as possible, led to ‘‘constrained construction methodologies’’;
● Heavy rain events have led to multiple construction days being stopped fully or partially;
● Delays caused by exterior events like Cyclone Gabrielle – for example, the closure of the asphalt plant in Winton, to service cyclone recovery, meant there’s only one plant within 200km; and
● Labour shortages due to staff illness and redirecting staff to support national emergency works.
Council spokesman Campbell Weal says Dublin St will reopen to traffic late this year, though traffic management will still be in place.
“Regarding the cost of the project, a public-excluded report was considered by councillors at their most recent meeting [on April 27].
“A statement on this is expected to be made available in the next week.”