Call to prioritise bridge work

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden has sought an assurance from the Otago Regional Transport Committee about when the planned Kawarau Falls replacement bridge is likely to proceed.

The QLDC wants to advance plans for the sought-after State Hightway 6 bridge at Queenstown's main route south from Frankton, after long-standing efforts to seek a commitment from the New Zealand Transport Agency about the project's expected start remain up in the air.

An indicative cost of about $17 million for a new two-way laned bridge to replace the existing one-way crossing was priced for the project in 2006.

Ms van Uden has asked the Otago Regional Council's transport committee to prioritise the project as part of a land transport programme, which is being developed to seek subsidised funding from NZTA.

"The [QLDC] is very keen to use this land transport programme to obtain commitment on timing for the Kawarau Falls Replacement Bridge," Ms van Uden said in an email to committee members.

There was a need to "manage community expectation" about timing for the planned construction, given there are "associated local projects" which are proposed to co-incide with the expected new bridge, she said.

The Otago regional land transport programme is a document which effectively ranks transport projects put forward by the five local authority councils as part of a contested bid for funds from the NZTA.

QLDC transport manager Denis Mander has warned the Frankton bridge is competing for funding with similarly priced projects in other parts of New Zealand, often where there is more traffic congestion.

The QLDC wants the published Otago transport programme to include a table of planned capital works for the region's state highways and local roads, complete with indicative timings and costs, Ms van Uden said.

The NZTA has contracted planning consultants Sinclair Knight Merz to develop a "specimen bridge" design, and information sessions were recently held in Queenstown as part of public consultation about the project, Mr Mander said.

The land transport programme was an opportunity for the QLDC to seek a "definitive timing" from NZTA about when the sought-after bridge upgrade may begin, Mr Mander said.



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