Dream realised as work begins on Anderson Rd bike path

by Kim Bowden - Mar 14, 2023

Wānaka locals have long lobbied for more safe routes to allow for bike travel from A to B, and now construction on another piece of the town's active transport puzzle is set to begin.

Work is finally starting on the $1.2 million shared pathway along Anderson Road after being pushed back to allow for water main upgrades.

Supporters of the new route say it's needed on what's an otherwise "scary" road for cyclists.

The chip-seal path will be adjacent to the roadway, but separated from vehicle traffic, and will connect at its northern end with the recently sealed cycleway down Aubrey Road from Albert Town past Northlake. 

There's long been a groundswell of community support for an urban cycling network in Wānaka, with now Wānaka-Upper Clutha Community Board chair Simon Telfer a spokesperson for it.

In a statement today from the Queenstown Lakes District Council, Mr Telfer says the council pushing play on some key active transport projects represents the realisation of a long-held vision.

“We set up the Active Transport Wānaka group in 2017, long before I was elected to the community board, and those attending a public meeting at the end of that year ranked Anderson Road as second priority behind Schools to Pool. Having both routes now under construction shows how a few passionate people in the community can work with Council to achieve meaningful change,” he says.

“We recognise that not everyone is able to forego their cars and utes but the increasing variety of e-bikes and scooters is making their use much more viable for a greater range of people than ever before. Both new routes will become important, long-term community assets that will encourage positive shifts in people’s travel decisions as our population grows.”

The Schools to Pool route is planned to cross town linking Holy Family and Wānaka Primary School with Mount Aspiring College and then continuing on into Three Parks, where Te Kura O Take Kārara (primary school) and the Recreation Centre are located.

Construction of the first stage of the route - a signalised crossing on Aubrey Road near the Catholic school - kicked off at the end of February, however future stages are reliant on funding and approvals.

Cyclists have told the council they have safety concerns regarding a patchy network that "spits" cyclists out onto roads with busy traffic after the relative safety of a separated track.

Within ten years an extra 5,000 people will likely call the area home, and the QLDC's acting general manager for property and infrastructure Tony Avery says the council is committed to continuing to invest in active transport infrastructure alongside planning for more conventional vehicle traffic to cater for that growth.

“The Upper Clutha’s resident population is predicted to grow by around 5,000 by 2031, with an above average rise in central parts of Wānaka. Creating enjoyable, safe options for people to leave their cars at home whenever possible will deliver many benefits in terms of physical wellbeing, a cleaner environment and reduced congestion,” he says.

This week, Wānaka locals will see contractors clearing a space on the corner of Wilkin Road that will be used for the temporary storage of equipment and supplied for the project.

Two established trees - a gum and an oak - will be felled to make way for it, but Mr Avery says their loss will "be offset by planting natives two-for-one as per the QLDC Tree Policy, in addition to the long-term environmental benefits of encouraging positive changes in travel behaviour".

“The first stage will be built from the southern end of Mount Iron Drive down to the state highway roundabout and then we’ll work back north towards Aubrey Road," Mr Avery says.

"The pathway will feature a variety of road crossing and safety features to suit the variable intersections and available space. A chip seal surface will enable any future water infrastructure work to be completed with minimal disruption and additional cost.”

A subsidy from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency will fund approximately half of the estimated $1.2 million project, the lead contractor for which is JFC, an Auckland headquartered civil construction company with an office in Queenstown.

Main image: Queenstown Lakes deputy mayor Quentin Smith (left) and Wānaka-Upper Clutha Community Board chair Simon Telfer by Anderson Road, where work's set to begin on the construction of a separated cycle way.

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