Further development ‘improbable’

Traffic along the route from Lake Hayes Estate to Pak ‘n Save, Queenstown. Photos: Supplied
Traffic along the route from Lake Hayes Estate to Pak ‘n Save, Queenstown. Photos: Supplied
Queenstown's mayor says further development along Ladies’ Mile is "improbable" unless the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) can find a solution to increasing traffic congestion.

Roadworks at the notorious Tucker Beach Road intersection have exacerbated traffic woes along State Highway 6 and reduced speed limits are likely to be in place until at least the end of January.

NZTA gave the work the green light in May, after years of campaigning by locals and the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

The $6million project means the right turn out of Tucker Beach Rd will be replaced with a slip road, accessed via the existing road under the Shotover River Bridge.

The speed limit in the vicinity of the roadworks was initially lowered from 80kmh to 60kmh. That has now been reduced further, to 30kmh.

There has since been an increase in congestion, particularly for those trying to get on to the highway from Lake Hayes Estate and Shotover Country.

Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult said he spoke to NZTA earlier this week about the issue, and they would meet again next week.

He said the main issues seemed to be the merging of traffic at the Lake Hayes Estate intersection, and the Shotover Country roundabout.

"I’ve asked NZTA to look into what can be done to smooth traffic coming into those, where it’s almost at a standstill."

He said any further development along Ladies’ Mile was "improbable" without NZTA finding a solution.

NZTA senior project manager Phil Dowsett said two complaints about the traffic had been received, "but the majority of road users are tolerant and very supportive of the project, given the safety gains it will provide for all road users as this area continues to grow".

He acknowledged the temporary speed limit increased travel time on that section of the highway.

But, he said, there was congestion before the project started, which reflected the growth in traffic in recent years.

"The high volume of traffic is the primary reason for the delays, particularly during peak times."

Queenstowner Ryan O’Leary, who has been working on the Queenstown Country Club development at Lake Hayes Estate, said the road leading to the highway would go from empty to gridlocked in a matter of minutes.

"People just need to leave quarter of an hour earlier."

The Tucker Beach Rd project is programmed to be completed in early April 2019. The temporary speed limit on the state highway is expected to be removed around the end of January, Mr Dowsett said.

Efforts would be made to minimise restrictions when the site is not being worked on over Christmas and New Year, "but there will still be a temporary speed limit to keep the public safe and protected from the incomplete roadworks", he said.

- Daisy Hudson

Comments

A few suggestions for the NZTA ... put some priority traffic light controls in place at both the Howard's drive/SH6 intersection and the Stalker Rd/SH6 roundabout while the work is ongoing. How about a temporary park and ride facility in cromwell for the commuters as well? And possibly a temporary park and ride at the eastern end of ladies mile. Also reduce the SH6 speed limit to at least 80km/h from the arrow junction.

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