The NZ Transport Agency has awarded a $6.4 million construction contract to Downer NZ Ltd for a major safety upgrade of the SH6/Tucker Beach Road intersection near Frankton.
The work includes a safety underpass below the SH6 Shotover Bridge for Tucker Beach road users, who currently need to turn right across two busy lanes of highway traffic to get to Frankton and Queenstown.
“This challenging right turn out of Tucker Beach Road will be replaced with a slip road accessed via the existing road under the Shotover River Bridge,” says Jim Harland, Director Regional Relationships, NZ Transport Agency.
“At the same time, water and wastewater pipes will be installed under the highway, as part of infrastructure needed for future subdivision developments at nearby Quail Rise, for Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC).
“We appreciate the great support of the Council and Quail Rise community in helping us to make this project a reality, and look forward to their continued support during construction.”
The preliminary construction programme indicates the slip road could be available by mid-February, but this is subject to the numerous existing services (for example, water and wastewater pipes) that require diversion not presenting any major difficulties.
“The later than planned awarding of the construction contract means that realistically there isn’t enough time to have the slip road finished to an acceptable standard by the end of the year. Both the Transport Agency and our contractor are committed to deliver a good quality job, and we aren’t prepared to compromise on that.”
Residents’ spokesperson Kerry Dunlop is pleased to see the project get underway. “While the residents of Quail Rise, Tucker Beach and cyclists would have liked the slip lane to be in place by Christmas, we appreciate the certainty that the Transport Agency has given the community to have the slip road opened early next year.”
QLDC Mayor Jim Boult is confident this new slip road will be a positive development for locals. “The good news is that this essential project is underway to create a safer junction for all road users. I had hoped for a completion date ahead of the busy summer period but agree that this project needs to be completed to meet current and emerging infrastructure needs. It’s a short delay for a longer-term benefit for this major route into Queenstown and Frankton.”
Road users can expect some disruptions during construction which will run through until April/May 2019 with landscaping, guardrail installation and pipe work continuing after the slip road opens in the New Year.
Every effort will be made to minimise delays and find options for ensuring the best possible traffic flows through the construction site. Particular attention will be paid to the highway over the Christmas-New Year holiday break to ensure smooth surfaces and no constraints on traffic, says Mr Harland.
“Once plans are firmed up, they will be shared with the local community and road users, so they know well in advance what to expect.”