Arguments about bridge route begin already

JOHN EDENS IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 05:00 20/03/2013

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The projected cost of a new bridge across the Kawarau River is $20 million, a senior New Zealand Transport Agency manager said yesterday.

Independent commissioners have approved a bid to build a two-lane replacement after the agency lodged a notice of requirement with the Queenstown Lakes District Council to alter State Highway 6 in the district plan for a 252m long and 13.8m wide bridge.

Public hearings were held in February and concerns were raised by Frankton community representatives and other submitters about the proposed highway route on the Frankton side and the need for a bypass via Robertson St.

New Zealand Transport Agency Otago Southland state highway manager Ian Duncan yesterday said the commissioners thoroughly considered the issues raised during hearings and provided thoughtful recommendations.

The agency's decision will be sent to Lakes Environmental within 30 days and submitters can appeal that decision to the Environment Court if they disagree.

Building a two-lane bridge will cost about $20m but the final bill will be confirmed through tendering for the design and construction contract, he said.

Remarkables Park and Frankton Community Association supported a Robertson St bypass, saying it was more efficient and attractive for traffic to and from the south. To align Robertson St with this option earthworks would be required but Mr Duncan said the disadvantages, including the cost, outweighed the benefits and the agency was not planning any more investigation.

Previously, Remarkables Park lawyer Graham Todd's submission said the agency showed no more than a "cursory" consideration of a Robertson St bypass with the focus on price.

Frankton resident Bill Falcone, who spoke at the hearings, yesterday said the commissioners' hands were tied and the agency consultation was disingenuous.

"They are legally obliged to consult the community but not obligated to listen."

The commissioners, Denis Nugent and Jane Taylor, said they were not required to evaluate whether a connection via Robertson was better nor were they required to evaluate the merits of options.

They said a new bridge represented sustainable management of natural and physical resources.

They did not recommend an alternative route to Peninsula Rd via Kawarau Falls Station and the Hilton Queenstown and Commissioner Taylor called for a recommendation guaranteeing management of the existing bridge for pedestrians and cyclists.

The 1926 bridge, plagued by bottlenecks and delays as Queenstown has grown, was designed with dam gates and is a New Zealand Historic Places Trust category 1 listing.

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The agency will consult the Otago Regional Council about funding as part of the next three-year transport programme.

- The Southland Times

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