Bridging a gap in Queenstown’s trail network

QLDC and NZTA agree that a bridge crossing SH6 will connect communities east of the Shotover to life in Frankton.

Dangerous crossing point on SH6, Queenstown

Frogger. A popular game from the ‘80s that required deft moves to travel from one side of the road to another. Not swift enough – squash! Anyone crossing SH6 on foot or bike faces a Frogger-style challenge every time they use the existing crossing point. 

So when a proposed upgrade to this route (termed the “A2 route” in documentation) was released in February 2021, a community-led campaign began. The Lightfoot Initiative, together with the Queenstown Trails Trust identified issues with the upgrade, namely, that the planned upgrade would increase use of the trail, but directed cyclists and pedestrians to an unsafe, narrow island refuge (opposite Hardware Lane). 

We agreed that the upgrade in general was a brilliant idea and an important development for the network. But it needed refinement to ensure the safety of those funnelled towards the existing crossing. Local businesses, organisations, schools and community associations agreed. Several contacted NZTA about the need for a safe crossing over SH6 as part of the upgrade. 

Fortunately, a collaboration of local architects and engineers recognised that a solution was needed, volunteering their time to develop a concept that Lightfoot presented to QLDC and Waka Kotahi/NZTA. Thanks to Wyatt + Gray Architects for bringing this concept to life.

Why this bridge, here?

Local communities are bisected by the twin challenge of the Shotover River and State Highway 6. Crossing these need not be the insurmountable challenge that it currently is. An active travel bridge for pedestrians, cyclists and other forms of micro-mobility would enable efficient and safe active travel from communities east of the Shotover (think Shotover Country, Lake Hayes Estate and the proposed Ladies Mile developments) into Frankton with a ride time of less than 20 minutes.

Not only that, the proposed bridge provides an iconic gateway to Queenstown that declares “we’re actively addressing our problems”. We’re a community that needs solutions to congestion. We’re a community that wants to respond to the climate emergency. Biking and walking won’t completely solve these problems, but they’ll take us part of the way. A bridge is essential to allow that first step forwards. And the best thing? It’s a pretty cheap fix for a huge problem.

Architect's impression of a bridge from Jim's Way over SH6
Architect’s impression of a bridge from Jim’s Way over SH6

Our local councillors and mayor have engaged with the bridge concept and we’re pleased to say that things are progressing. In the past two months, both QLDC and Waka Kotahi/NZTA have come to the party, stating that the idea of the proposed bridge across State Highway 6 “has merit” and “is a good idea”. Waka Kotahi project lead Simon Underwood has committed to a geo-tech investigation to assess the suitability of the proposed location. This process is well under way and Lightfoot expects an update within six weeks. 

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