Hearing set for bridge NZTA to put case for change

An artist's impression of the proposed two-lane bridge on State Highway 6 between Kelvin Heights and Frankton. Photo supplied.
An artist's impression of the proposed two-lane bridge on State Highway 6 between Kelvin Heights and Frankton. Photo supplied.
The New Zealand Transport Agency's (NZTA) application to change the designation for a new $20 million two-lane bridge on State Highway 6, between Kelvin Heights and Frankton, will be heard over three days next month.

In September, Lakes Environmental, as the regulatory arm of the Queenstown Lakes District Council, advertised the notice of requirement to alter the designation at the Kawarau Falls bridge.

The new designation would allow a bridge to be built alongside the existing bridge, which is controlled by traffic lights, and causes lengthy delays for motorists

during the holiday period.

NZTA Southern regional director Jim Harland said the notice of requirement process recognised the NZTA as a requiring authority providing a safe and efficient state highway network.

Nine submissions on the notice of requirement were received, all in support or neutral, with some submitters seeking additional conditions on the designation.

Independent commissioners Denis Nugent and Jane Taylor would hear the application in Queenstown from February 11.

Mr Harland said evidence from NZTA, its planning and engineering consultants Sinclair Knight Merz,

Lakes Environmental and others would be presented.

The future of the single lane ''bridge/dam structure'' was not covered by the notice of requirement, as it was owned by the Ministry of Building, Employment and Innovation, and leased to the NZTA.

''When the existing bridge is no longer required for the state highway traffic, it will still be available for pedestrians and cyclists.''

Before construction, an outline plan of works would be submitted to Lakes Environmental, including details of the final design.

The design and construction was included in the NZTA's 10-year state highway plan and had been signalled as a project of regional significance in the 2012-15 Otago regional transport programme.

However, construction investment approval for the new bridge first had to go through the Otago Regional Land Transport Committee and then through the NZTA's national prioritisation of investment for state highway projects. Mr Harland said work on the two-lane bridge was anticipated to start ''some time after 2016''. It would take about two years to build.