Focus goes on transport

An investigation into road links from State Highway 6 to Frankton Flats is designed to prove to the Government the urgency of building the new Kawarau Falls bridge, the safer Glenda Dr roundabout and the pressure-relieving Eastern Access Road.

''The Frankton Flats-Western End Project'' by the Queenstown Lakes District Council will work together with the ''Bridge to Bridge Study'', referencing the existing Kawarau Falls and Shotover bridges, by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), which is looking at the wider state highway network.

''It's quite a valuable project for the community to get a better understanding of the future requirements for transportation within the Frankton area,'' council infrastructure and assets general manager Erik Barnes said.

''It's looking at what are the current requirements and then into the future; so how do we plan for that effectively?''

The report published in June will be instrumental in council and agency decisions regarding Frankton Flats.

The project dovetails with the council's review of transportation in the Queenstown Lakes district.

The associated projects had been on the long-term plan for several years.

Council staff decided it was time to refresh the previous strategy because funding through the agency had been altered, the Government's policy statement on transportation had changed and it was important to update the council's aim to meet community expectations, Mr Barnes said.

Council staff started the overall review of the district transportation strategy in a meeting in September and will look at the underlying projects which feed into it, coinciding with the Western End and Bridge to Bridge.

The council is consulting the NZTA, the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce and the Otago Regional Council about transportation issues now and in the future, then will open consultation to the public in a format to be determined in the new year.

Staff aim to finish the review by June for the initial district strategy, while timing for the other two projects depends on agency funding.

''We'll have an update strategic plan for the district and identification of future improvements or projects coming out of that,'' Mr Barnes said.

''One of the main things will be responding to the community's needs and desires. The other is ensuring we're managing growth in the district appropriately and that's from state highways and local roads.''

The projects will help the council understand the importance and explain the importance at the national level to seek funding for key network improvements, especially the three projects Wakatipu residents most want to see finished.

The $18 million Kawarau Falls replacement two-lane bridge, to remove congestion and frustration at the old existing one-lane dam crossing; the new $6 million Glenda Dr roundabout and highway modification, to replace the existing crash-prone intersection; and the $9 million Eastern Access Road, which will complete a circuit around Frankton Flats with a new road from Glenda Dr, along the corridor cut into the earthworks platform of the runway end safety area of Queenstown Airport, to connect with the expanding Remarkables Park Town Centre.

''We have to do these projects to gain funding through NZTA to show their importance and that there is a business case for them,'' Mr Barnes said.

''The hope is we can push them forward as fast as we can. Our desire is to have that bridge in there and it's been on the books for many years, so hopefully this will help us put that case forward.

''It's very important we get our transportation network right, for now and for future generations.''