Road cone reproduction is on steroids
March 1 2021 by Paul Taylor
Take a walk around Queenstown CBD and it seems every missing tourist has been replaced by a road cone.
There's so many of them I fear they might be reproducing, like we're in some budget sci-fi film. You take your eyes off one for a second and another appears, silent, ominous, orange. And I have some bad and good news - the invasion of the road cones is going to continue for at least a decade.
Queenstown Lakes District Council, in partnership with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and other organizations, is planning to spend more than $1.4 billion on capital works projects before 2030. That's billion with a 'B'.
Backed by Government funding, over the next three years alone they'll spend $60 million improving Brecon Street, Rees Street, Beach Street and Park Street, and $65 million on the first stage of the downtown bypass, and $90 million on the Frankton Road / SH6 Ladies Mile corridor, including a new roundabout at the Lake Hayes Estate turnoff and major upgrade of Frankton's BP roundabout. Then, there are stages 2 and 3 of the bypass, and the redevelopment of Lakeview, and the Stanley Street bus interchange, and Project Manawa off Ballarat St, etc, etc.
I say 'bad and good news' because Jesus are we in for some short-term pain and disruption. Look at the traffic congestion caused by the $6 million project to build a new slip road to Quail Rise. That was mostly out of the way. And the borders will, you'd hope, reopen before even the first of these projects are complete. What are the tourists going to make of our picturesque town when it looks like a congested building site? Not very Instagram-able.
The good news? Queenstown's been playing catch up on its infrastructure for a decade, particularly transport, so at least we're finally doing something about it, while reviving downtown and providing much-needed jobs. And all this will be incredible when it's finished. Imagine catching one of the frequent buses to downtown, cutting through any traffic on dedicated bus lanes, alighting at a new interchange, to watch a concert in a purpose-built venue, or dine in one of the new public squares, or wander up to Lakeview for drinks and the, erm, lake view.
I suppose it's about finding the balance between disruption and improvement. Hopefully the short-to-medium term pain will be worth it for the long-term gain. Just watch out for those cones.