Kawarau Falls bridge hearing under way

An initial hearing for the replacement of the archaic Kawarau Falls bridge kicked off with a bid to increase "connectivity" to the Frankton Flats.

Remarkables Park Ltd lawyer Graham Todd asked notice of requirement hearings commissioners to consider including an intersection joining State Highway 6 with Robertson St on the Queenstown side of the bridge.

This would allow a corridor for road, foot and cycle traffic to develop in what was Queenstown's fastest-growing area, Mr Todd said.

"The [Queenstown Lakes District] Council has seen fit to provide for the provision of the largest urban development in the Remarkables Park Zone," he said.

The area is the confirmed site of a new high school and a large arterial road, known as the Eastern Access Rd, which will link Remarkables Park with sister development Shotover Park and the Frankton Flats through a road built around the edge of Queenstown Airport's runway extension area.

Construction of the Twin Rivers cycle trail, which skirts the Kawerau and Shotover rivers, was completed last year. In 2012, Remarkables Park also received confirmation that a private plan change green-lighting major new development had been enacted.

The NZ Transport Agency, which is applying for the Notice of Requirement, either "ignored or gave scant regard to" the growth issues facing the Frankton area - and a Robertson St intersection that would link to Hawthorne Dr, and the Eastern Access Rd when it is built - could alleviate this, Mr Todd said.

Securing a Notice of Requirement for the new bridge's land, roading links and construction requirements is the first step in moving towards a resource consent application. The bridge is earmarked for a 2015-16 build.

"If a designation is confirmed, it will be the last chance for the community to have any say in matters relating to the bridge in 100 years. If you confirm this . . . all options are cut off."

The one-way, 86-year-old bridge has been plagued by bottlenecks and delays as Queenstown has grown from a small hamlet to a booming tourism destination.

The Porter Group's Alastair Porter, who co-directs the controlling company of Remarkables and Shotover Park, said it appeared the Robertson St connection "had been rejected solely due to perceived funding constraints," even though alternative funding had been discussed with the agency in 2011.

At the growth rate the Frankton Flats and Remarkables Park were experiencing, the chance to provide solid roading infrastructure for the next 100 years could be cut drastically short, Mr Porter said.

"Quite frankly, there will be traffic problems in 10 years if this is not closely looked at now."


The Southland Times