Traffic will flow in both directions* over the entire length of Queenstown’s new $22 million Kawarau Falls Bridge from mid-afternoon** Thursday, 10 May.
Since February, all hands have been on deck to ensure both lanes of the much awaited bridge at Frankton would be ready ahead of the winter ski season.
NZ Transport Agency Director of Regional Relationships Jim Harland says with two lanes of traffic free flowing over the new bridge, both locals and visitors will benefit from a marked reduction in congestion, especially during peak travel times.
“Other benefits this bridge offers are safer and better access to the Frankton Flats area, the Airport and Queenstown CBD, and to developments south of Queenstown and to destinations further afield such as Invercargill and Milford Sound.”
The two-lane Kawarau Falls Bridge is a major part of a wider transport improvement plan for the Wakatipu Basin involving the NZ Transport Agency, Queenstown Lakes District Council, Otago Regional Council and Queenstown Airport Corporation.
Jim Harland says the aim of all partners involved, is to create a well-integrated and responsive transport system needed by the tourist town to manage transport issues facing the area, created by strong growth in visitors numbers, and resulting surge in developments and economic activity. “A fully completed two-lane Kawarau Falls Bridge is an important step toward that goal,” he says.
Fraser Wyllie, Managing Director McConnell Dowell, agrees. “We’ve seen Queenstown’s expansion and development throughout the bridge construction, and the resulting increase in transport demand. We are all pleased to see both lanes of this iconic bridge open and benefiting the community and visitors alike.”
The bridge, which is built to withstand a 1-in-2,500 year earthquake, is one of the largest highway projects seen in the Queenstown area, and will be a key transport connection for the Wakatipu Basin for many decades, he says.
By spring, the entire project will be completed with landscaping of the new bridge site, along with work on converting the old Kawarau Falls single lane, heritage bridge into a safe walking and cycling facility, providing an important link in the Queenstown cycle trail network.
*Traffic has been one-way only on the bridge since the New Year while work was done to complete the project and associated infrastructure services which it carries.
**Around 2.30 pm following the opening ceremony.