Major Queenstown transport projects underway

Park Ride Location
Date:
Dec 21, 2016

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult is confident that drivers will see significant improvement in congestion and transport options by this time next year, with four major projects due to be completed in 2017.

He says residents and visitors will all benefit from a new airport park and ride system, improvements to public transport and the development of a final strategy around the Kawarau Bridge to Five Mile corridor. The removal of the cars parked on State Highway 6 will also form part of a comprehensive parking strategy to be developed.

Mayor Boult said he was encouraged to see the way the various organisations involved were working together. “These are big ticket projects and involve an enormous amount of planning and cooperation to get them across the line. It is fantastic to see the proactive and pragmatic approach taken by the QLDC, the NZ Transport Agency, Queenstown Airport Corporation and the Otago Regional Council with regard to a wide range of issues, and we look forward to making some significant improvements to Queenstown’s transport system over the next 12 months and beyond.”

The Council is working with QAC to develop an airport park and ride system from March/April next year, in time for the opening of Stage One of the Hawthorne Drive link between Frankton Flats and Remarkables Park. The airport park and ride facility will provide parking for airport users, while also offering spaces for vehicles currently parked along Glenda Drive to ensure this route can be safely used by higher traffic volumes until Hawthorne Drive fully opens in December 2017.

Queenstown Airport Chief Executive Colin Keel said the new service is aimed at those parking for three or more days and would particularly appeal to those from the wider region, such as Arrowtown, Cromwell, Wanaka and further afield. “We’ve been working through various options over the last few months and the opportunity to work with QLDC is our preferred option. The offering will provide an affordable, efficient and easy-to-use service where locals can park their car and jump on a shuttle to right outside the terminal.”

Concurrently with the airport park and ride solution, the Transport Agency and QLDC have committed to removing the cars parked beside SH6 from the BP Roundabout down Kawarau Road. Mayor Boult said this was not only an eyesore, but also presented a hazard to motorists. A comprehensive parking strategy will be developed to include additional parking and management controls to protect the existing residential streets and prevent casual parking spilling further into residential Frankton and the neighbouring area. The work will be coordinated with the opening of the airport park and ride facility, offering an alternative for motorists now parking on the roadside.

Mayor Boult also noted the efforts of local MP Todd Barclay to ensure Queenstown’s transport issues were addressed. “Todd has been a strong advocate in Wellington, working with Ministers and officials to highlight our community’s concerns. His advocacy along with the great commitment by all parties has resulted in good progress being made.”

Mr Barclay is also happy to see improvements underway, stating “Working on these projects has been a big focus of mine - there’s huge potential here to ease the current pressures and ensure the district continues to thrive. I’m thrilled that just over a month after launching my petition, we’ve achieved the desired result and it’s been great to regularly engage with Transport Minister Simon Bridges so he recognises the need for immediate attention in Queenstown - and the Government is responding by investing in a significant programme of work for the district. It’s been a real pleasure to work with Mayor Jim Boult and the Council, QAC and the Transport Agency on these projects. It shows what can be achieved by coordination across central and local government and the private sector.”

Meanwhile, the Transport Agency is considering a strategy to improve the section of the current State Highway network between 5 Mile (Grant Rd) and the new Kawarau Bridge, including an immediate upgrade to the junction of SH6 and SH6A (the BP roundabout) to help reduce congestion. Stage one of this project will begin immediately after the busy summer period and is due to be finished by winter 2017.
Mayor Boult said he was looking forward to seeing details about stage two of this project next year, including what will be done to improve SH6 from Grant Road to Kawarau Falls factoring in integration with walking, cycling and public transport. Mayor Boult said he was advocating for work on the longer term solution to commence in 2017 and that he personally favoured four-laning of the entire section.

He said there have been positive discussions between ORC, QLDC and the Transport Agency on a revamped public transport system. Mayor Boult said he has been pushing for affordability, increased frequency, better reliability and a simple single fare structure to attract patronage. “While the decisions rest with the ORC, and the cost of such a system may require some subsidy from ratepayers, I consider that these types of changes are important if we are to get people out of cars and reduce congestion.” Final details are yet to be agreed on but it was expected ORC would be announcing some significant changes to the public transport system in the Wakatipu in the next six months.

“Public transport is essential to ensuring our roading network doesn’t grind to a halt. People need to start thinking differently about transport in the Wakatipu and moving away from the traditional reliance on private cars. Our geography means we can’t simply keep building more roads. We need a frequent, reliable and affordable system that offers a viable alternative to driving. Ultimately, we want to offer a service that is attractive to residents and visitors alike and encourages people to think twice before taking the car.”

“Queenstown’s traffic problems are unquestionably large, but we’re working hard with our partners in central and local government, as well as the local business community to get meaningful solutions sooner rather than later.”

Jim Harland the Transport Agency’s Regional Director says “We appreciate working with all the partners that have an interest in improving transport around Queenstown by developing a sustainable transport solution or the District. This is already reaping benefits for road users and the community. We are looking forward to working together next year and beyond.”

Mayor Boult said QLDC was also pushing on with its Town Centre Transport Strategy to improve parking and congestion in downtown Queenstown and would be reviewing the public’s feedback to measures that are already been trialled.

ENDS

Airport Park and Ride location above (supplied by QAC)