Sods turned at Hawthorne Drive

Date:
Nov 3, 2016

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Opening a direct link between Frankton Flats through Remarkables Park to Kawarau Road would be “transformative”, Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult said today. He and Transport Minister Hon Simon Bridges brought out the spades to turn the first sods in the new route that will link the southern and northern ends of Hawthorne Drive.

At a total projected cost of $27.1 million including design, land acquisition and associated works, the route formerly known as the Eastern Access Road is the largest council-led project involving local government and the NZ Transport Agency currently underway anywhere in the country. The Government is contributing $7.6 million towards the cost of building the road.

An interim link from Glenda Drive to the southern end of Hawthorne Drive will be open by next winter and the full route will be open by the end of 2017.

Mayor Boult said that Hawthorne Drive was the district’s “most eagerly anticipated and most urgently needed infrastructure project”.

He noted that figures released this week showed Queenstown’s population had grown 7.1% in the past 12 months, far outstripping the national growth rate of 2.1%. “Add to that the continuing upward curve in visitor arrivals through the airport, the ongoing rise in commercial bed nights and the seemingly endless applications for building permits. With all of those pressures it is little wonder that our roads and highways are showing the strain,” he said.

Traffic counts show that vehicle movements in Frankton have been increasing at over 10% a year.

Mayor Boult noted that the creation of the new roundabouts on SH6 had improved traffic flows on the key transport artery and welcomed the pending start to improvements at the BP roundabout, and the new bridge being built across the Kawarau River.

He said QLDC had been grappling with the consequences of high growth for several years. “To date our strategy has been to provide new infrastructure `just in time’ to meet demand. I have no qualms in saying that, in my view, that strategy will no longer serve us.

“Our reputation as an international visitor destination and our responsibility to service the needs of our own residents and businesses both demand a change in approach. We must get ahead of the growth curve.”

ENDS

Image Caption: Mayor Jim Boult (left) and Minister Hon Simon Bridges turned the first sods at today’s ground-breaking ceremony in Frankton.