No replacement bridge until 2016

An artist’s impression of a possible solution to a Kawarau Falls replacement bridge, which links...
An artist’s impression of a possible solution to a Kawarau Falls replacement bridge, which links Kelvin Heights and Frankton via State Highway 6. The existing bridge can be seen to the left of the picture. Photo supplied.
Construction of the replacement Kawarau Falls bridge has not been included in the 2012-15 regional land transport programme for Otago, despite a collaborative approach from Otago and Southland to bring the date forward.

However, the process towards construction has been set in motion, with the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) applying for resource consents from Lakes Environmental and the Otago Regional Council.

Queenstown Lakes District Council transport manager (QLDC) Denis Mander said the lodging of consents meant "when the funding for construction does get switched on" contractors could begin work immediately.

NZTA Southern regional director Jim Harland confirmed construction would not occur before 2016.

Confirmation of funding for the next three-yearly programme of 2015-18 is subject to prioritisation against other projects nationally.

At a QLDC infrastructure services committee meeting on May 1 this year, councillors approved a submission from the Otago Regional Land Transport Committee to the Southland equivalent asking for support for a collaborative approach from the two regions.

The letter of support, written by QLDC infrastructure services committee chairman Lyal Cocks, said the council was aware of the submission on the draft Southland Regional Land Transport Programme hoping to "bring forward the construction date for the Kawarau Falls replacement bridge".

"The Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Otago and Southland regions have a common interest in bringing forward the construction date for the replacement bridge," the letter said.

Environment Southland transport policy analyst Russell Hawkes said the submission from the Otago transport committee had "our full support" and the bridge had been entrenched in Southland's transport programme as being "of inter-regional importance".

The Southland committee was not asked to commit any funds towards to bridge, but it was "certainly prepared to discuss that".

A response from the NZTA indicated because Southland "did not commit any regional funds to the Otago programme", the replacement bridge could not be included in the 2012-15 Regional Land Transport Programme for Otago.

Otago Regional Council transport manager Jane Turnbull confirmed her council had included a new Kawarau Falls bridge in the 2012-15 programme. However, construction was not envisaged until after 2015.

The documents filed with Lakes Environmental reveal an 8m-wide temporary bridge will be built downstream of the replacement bridge, allowing for a 100-tonne crane.

NZTA acting state highways manager for Otago-Southland Ian Duncan said the temporary bridge would be for construction purposes only and the existing bridge would remain open to vehicles until the new bridge was available.

The 250m-long, 13.6m-wide replacement bridge, likely to cost $17 million, would emerge from the same location as the existing bridge at the Frankton end and curve away to end at a location downstream.

The existing bridge had "archaeological values inherent in the bridge's structure" and would be retained as a cycleway and pedestrian walkway.


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