A two lane option will be available for traffic travelling over the Kawarau River at Frankton for the busy Christmas/New Year period this year.
The NZ Transport Agency and construction company, McConnell Dowell, have agreed on a traffic management plan for the busy Christmas break which will see two-way traffic using the old Kawarau Falls bridge and one lane of the new bridge.
The State Highway 6 Kawarau Falls Bridge project programme had a completion date of December 2017. However, the work programme has been adjusted to include the two Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) water pipelines. The new bridge will open to two-lane traffic by late March next year, which is a great outcome for the community.
QLDC Chief Executive Mike Theelen believes this is a sensible investment and the right time to get the work done.
“These pipes are an important piece of infrastructure and help us to futureproof our wastewater network. As new development accelerates in areas south of the bridge it is important to ensure we take the opportunity to get new infrastructure in place early. While this work will impact on the final completion date for the project, doing it now will be less disruptive than digging up the road in a few years’ time to lay them then.”
Two major pipelines, supplying fresh water to new subdivisions south of the Kawarau River and taking their wastewater to the Shotover delta treatment plant, will be installed as part of the Transport Agency’s Kawarau Falls Bridge contract.
The inclusion of the pipelines in the bridge contract will see a rise in QLDC’s costs from a total budget of $5.3 million to $7.2 million. This is being funded by QLDC.
The Kawarau Falls Bridge will open to two way traffic in late March 2018, and the Transport Agency, QLDC and McConnell Dowell are all working together to ensure this date is met. While open to traffic, there will be some restrictions until around mid-2018 while work to finish and landscape the bridge and associated infrastructure is completed.
“Given the pressure on highways around Queenstown during the Christmas/New Year peak, drivers will be travelling over the new bridge as well as the existing bridge by the end of this year, in order to allow two-way traffic and avoid the traditional traffic bottleneck at this time of year,” says Jim Harland, Director Regional Relationships for the Transport Agency.
Following the summer peak traffic period, there will be some temporary traffic management necessary to allow the pedestrian and cycling underpass and the remaining bridge works to be completed.
“The Transport Agency is pleased to have the opportunity to work together with the Council in its infrastructure development for future growth. It is yet another example of the two organisations working together to deliver the best outcome for the community as well as visitors to Queenstown,” says Mr Harland.
Transport Agency Senior Project Manager Phil Dowsett endorses the approach being taken. “The contractor, McConnell Dowell, is experienced in major infrastructure construction. Local engineering designer Hadley Consultants has undertaken design work under their sub-contract with McConnell Dowell.”
Mr Dowsett says that there are very real economic and time-saving benefits by integrating the bridge construction with the new pipelines, rather than two separate contracts undertaken at different times. “The inevitable delays caused by temporary traffic management are minimised, the need for reinstatement of the highway pavements are avoided and there are cost efficiencies from the co-ordinated construction.”
The pipelines are part of the forward plan as part of QLDC’s infrastructure development to support the residential subdivisions south of the Kawarau River. They will service the subdivisions at Hanley Downs and Jack’s Point as well as catering for Kelvin Heights.
The bridge has been designed to carry the extra weight of a range of utility services. It is designed to the current seismic requirements so will be a lifeline in the event of a major earthquake for transportation and key utilities.
“Throughout the construction, the Transport Agency and McConnell Dowell will be working together to minimise the inevitable disruption to traffic whilst getting the work done as quickly as possible,” says Mr Dowsett. “The tolerance and understanding that drivers have exhibited to date has been appreciated.”