$250 million bill for Queenstown roundabout

The cost of upgrading Queenstown’s BP roundabout and connecting roads at Frankton has swelled to a quarter of a billion dollars.

The transport minister announced the more than doubling of the budget — to $250 million, up from the $115 million previously announced — at a sod turning in Queenstown today to mark the start of the four-year project.

Simeon Brown said easing congestion and creating a more reliable transport network in Queenstown was a priority and the Government had agreed to increase the funding from existing Crown allocations to ensure the important package of improvements was delivered.

With more than 40,000 vehicles passing through each day at peak times, the SH6/6A Frankton intersection had become ‘‘incredibly congested and inefficient’’, he said.

He was reported as saying the Government  had chosen to prioritise the Queenstown roading project as it would ‘‘unlock houses’’  — referring to land flagged for residential development along Ladies Mile  — and ‘‘support tourism’’.

“With tourism returning to pre-CovidD restriction levels, and continued growth in and around Queenstown, upgrades to this critical intersection will ensure local commuters and visitors can get to where they are going, quickly and safely,’’ he said in a statement.

A graphic render of the enlarged Frankton roundabout, which will become a signalled intersection....
A graphic render of the enlarged Frankton roundabout, which will become a signalled intersection. IMAGE: NZUP

The upgrades would provide families and children who went to school in Queenstown with more travel choices by delivering an expanded bus hub, as well as allowing more room for ski bus operators in the winter.

“Local concerns around Howards Dr will also be addressed with a new roundabout, and signals will be added at Joe O’Connell Dr to help make entry and exit at the Events Centre more efficient.’’

The SH6/6A Frankton intersection was in a busy and confined corridor, with no viable detour.

While there would be disruption during the expected four-year construction period, NZTA would ensure traffic remained flowing.

“We need to keep Queenstown moving during construction and the project team will ensure the current corridor remains open to two-way traffic while these critical upgrade works are carried out,’’ Mr Brown said.

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Glyn Lewers was reported as saying he was well aware of local frustration about ongoing roadworks in Queenstown and had been assured significant planning had been done to reduce the impact as much as possible.

He asked that users of the road kept ‘‘cool, look ahead and keep an eye on the prize.’’

Construction manager for the project, Mark Townsley, said there was expected to be little disruption to traffic during the first 18 months of the works.