$134m trail network planned for Queenstown

Getting Queenstown commuters off the road is set to come with a $134 million price tag.

An active transport business case released by the Queenstown Lakes District Council yesterday outlined an ambitious project to create a network of commuter trails suitable for cyclists and pedestrians throughout the Wakatipu.

The initial phase of the project, expected to create 32km of trails, would require a joint investment of $40 million from the council and NZ Transport Agency over five years.

The second stage would cost $94 million between 2024 and 2030.

The move has been lauded by Queenstown Chamber of Commerce chief executive Anna Mickell as "obviously amazing''.

But she questioned what it would take to actually get the project "off the plans and into reality''.

"All these new initiatives are great, but it's about a mind-shift as well as a mode-shift,'' she said.

"We need to be thinking about this thing urgently.''

The project would focus primarily on commuter routes rather than recreational ones, according to the covering report.

The business case also outlines the benefits of boosting the active travel network in a rapidly growing area, and getting people out of cars and off the increasingly congested road into the resort.

"Given increasing urban and population growth in the coming years and a continued reliance on private vehicles as a primary mode of transport in the absence of alternatives, an active travel network presents an opportunity to support regional growth, integrate future changes to land use with the transport system, and support improved health benefits for the local community and visitors.''

In particular, it highlighted the need for strong connections between growing suburbs such as Jacks Point and Queenstown itself.

The existing trail network already supports more than 330,000 one-way movements over an average 12-month period.

But, the business case noted, there were "cumulative real and perceived safety issues for active travel users'' on the current network.

"Perception and increased relative risk mean that Wakatipu residents do not view cycling as a viable travel choice for work or recreation.

"When combined with a trail network with missing links and poor levels of service for pedestrians and cyclists, this deters active travel users and reinforces a transport system dominated by private vehicle trips.''

Ms Mickell also raised the issue of the resort's "unreliable'' public transport network, which she has been a vocal critic of.

The transport agency was developing a travel demand management plan for the resort, which was likely to include the formation of a travel management association that Ms Mickell would be a member of.

At Thursday's full council meeting, councillors will be asked to approve the business case, subject to financing, and direct staff to begin detailed design and construction work.

The business case

  • Plan to create commuter network of trails
  • $134 million cost
  • Phase one 32km over five years
  • $40 million from QLDC and NZTA
  • Second phase $94 million, from 2024-30

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