Falls bridge design debated

The New Zealand Transport Agency has said there is no requirement for it to consider alternatives to its own plans for the proposed $18 million Kawarau Falls Bridge.

It was suggested by more than one party this week at a Lakes Environmental resource consent hearing that the bridge, proposed to be built after 2015, be linked to Robertson Rd in Frankton.

Independent commissioners Denis Nugent and Jane Taylor have adjourned the hearing and are likely to release their decision within t three weeks.

While all parties heard this week agree the resort's southern entrance needs a two-lane bridge, there are disagreements over its provisions.

The Frankton Community Association submitted that the bridge should connect with Robertson Rd and help link with the Eastern Access Rd that will lead to the Remarkables Park Ltd and Shotover developments.

Remarkables Park Ltd made the same suggestion, saying it would reduce travel time and improve amenity.

This would involve either lowering the road or raising the bridge at a cost of $1 million.

Submitting on behalf of the association, Bill Falcone said the link to Robertson Rd would take the pressure off the already congested BP roundabout in Frankton and provide a direct access and bypass to Hawthorne Dr.

He said the cheaper option was the wrong option.

''Council are saying we will do anything as long as it's quick, all for the sake of $1.2 million. It's so shortsighted, it's sickening.

The association's report stated work in the past had been done too quickly, leaving the community with a ''fallout for decades and generations to come''.

''If we as a community fail to address this issue now, we will be unfairly burdening future generations.''

Queenstown Lakes District Council transport manager Denis Mander said the council supported the NZTA's plans for the bridge so long as the conditions of good design for cycling and walkways are met.

''Council is comfortable with the location and design of the bridge, but seek commitments from NZTA on conditions relating to urban design and cycling and walking.''

However, the NZTA's right of reply to all submissions stated there was no requirement for it to show its plans would meet project objectives better than the alternatives of the submitters.

''That others might consider their alternatives to be better is irrelevant.''

The NZTA had considered the Robertson St option, but did not consider it appropriate or required as it did not ''present value for money''.

The NZTA submitted its statutory responsibilities were to manage the state highway system, but it was not responsible for all local vehicle, cycle and pedestrian movements.

However, Mr Mander said it was most important that there be considerations made over the amenity of the bridge to walkers and cyclists as it had the potential to affect people's perspective of the wider Queenstown Trail.

Lakes Environmental infrastructure engineer Alan Hopkins was swayed by some submissions and said there should be some consideration of the Robertson St option if the council put forward that case.

In 2011, variations were considered by the NZTA to align the bridge further from the now-preferred location. However, these variations were dismissed due to cost.

The cost difference between a concrete bridge and a steel bridge was also debated, the latter being the cheapest at $18.5 million, compared with $21.8 million.

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