Winners and losers in road funding

Bryan Cadogan.
Bryan Cadogan.
Government plans to bring forward construction of a new bridge at Kawarau Falls is ''sensational news'' which will help deliver a complete ''world-class experience'' for visitors, Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd says.

The $20 million to $25 million replacement of the Kawarau Falls Bridge, announced by Prime Minister John Key on Sunday, is expected to begin next year as part of a $212 million national roading upgrade.

Mr Budd yesterday said replacing the existing single-lane structure was something the Queenstown community had been needing and wanting for a long time.

''The main reason I'm delighted is that from a visitor experience point of view it will make a very big difference.

"Obviously at our peak times we have a bottleneck there ... particularly in winter when people are getting across to and from the Remarkables ski area and also in summertime.

"But probably most importantly it's our main gateway to the South and a key part of our roading network.

Graham Budd.
Graham Budd.
''I think as a world-class destination we need world-class roading and infrastructure and frankly the Kawarau bridge currently is far from delivering a world-class experience.''

The Queenstown Lakes District Council also welcomed news of the bridge work being started sooner than had previously been expected.

The district's Mayor, Vanessa van Uden, agreed the bridge was a significant gateway for locals and visitors and a replacement would remove the bottleneck situation there.

''We are also working with the NZTA to construct a new roundabout to improve the intersection of Glenda Dr with the state highway,'' Ms van Uden said.

''Our next major challenge will be to address the build-up of traffic at the Frankton roundabout, because until that is done we are unlikely to see significant improvements to traffic congestion at Frankton.''

But Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan questioned the $212 million windfall for some roading projects after his district council was told its New Zealand Transport Agency funding for roading would be ''slashed'' by 18%.

''We have the third-largest roading network in the country but are being told there's no more government money for roads, and we'll have to fund more from rates, so you can see why I'm slightly confused about this announcement [of the $212 million]'', he said.

The recent funding assistance rate review would result in Clutha's 62% NZTA subsidy dropping to 53% over the next nine years.

''That's going to have implications on the rate take as we'll have to gather more in rates to keep road funding at the existing level.''

Clutha had 250 bridges and bridge culverts in its district, Mr Cadogan observed.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz