Seal unsafe road now, locals say

A sign warns of changes in the surface of Ballantyne Rd. Photo: Tim Miller.
A sign warns of changes in the surface of Ballantyne Rd. Photo: Tim Miller.
Ballantyne Rd residents want the condition of the road improved so accidents such as the one that killed a Luggate teenager are avoided.

On Monday, Jackson James Aitchison (17) died when the car he was driving left Ballantyne Rd and crashed into a tree.

It is still unclear what caused the accident and police are  investigating.

The road is used as an alternative route to and from Wanaka and as a direct link between State Highway 6 and Cardrona Valley Rd.

Ballantyne Rd and Mt Barker residents have worried for years about the condition and suitability of the road and taken their complaints to the Queenstown Lakes District Council on several occasions.

Grant Cochrane, who lives and farms next to the road, said it had become "diabolical" in the past few years.

The accident on Monday occurred just outside the gate to Mr Cochrane’s shearing shed.

"It’s an absolute tragedy what happened to the poor boy and we just don’t want anything like that happening again."

Mr Cochrane said he had worked with the council for many years trying to upgrade the road but it was still dangerous.

"What you have now is a mix of tarseal, Otta seal and gravel, which can be a nightmare to drive on at the best of times."

Figures from the council showed about 230 vehicles used the road each day.

"At 7am and then again at 4.30pm the road is just packed with people trying to get to and from Wanaka. It’s diabolical."

About a month ago, a young woman was lucky to escape with no injuries after she came off the same stretch of road and narrowly avoided a concrete pole, he said.

There would be a significant cost to seal the road but the council should do it now before it was too late, he said.

Another resident,  Dr David Allen, had been trying to get the council to upgrade the road since the early 2000s.

He said the issue had got worse in recent years as the Three Parks subdivision and the new industrial area had been developed.

The council had responded at different times to different concerns but the entire stretch of road needed to be redesigned, he said.

"There’s got to be a better management plan for it or accidents are going to keep on happening."

Council property and infrastructure general manager Peter Hansby said the council was considering Otta sealing the unsealed sections of the road at a cost of about $150,000.

Temporary speed restrictions of 50kmh had been placed on the unsealed sections since October 3, Mr Hansby said.

tim.miller@odt.co.nz

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