Growing pains as Wānaka roundabout build slows traffic

by Lauren Pattemore - Sep 20, 2023

There's been construction pains and traffic delays for Upper Clutha residents as work on Wānaka's new Aubrey Road and Anderson Road roundabout continues.

Temporary traffic lights were put in place at the work site from 7am on Monday (September 18), but rather than assisting traffic flow they originally caused a backup of vehicles, with commuters and school pupils experiencing long waits during peak travel times.

A warning to a local community Facebook group of the growing commuter queue earlier this week attracted close to 200 comments, mainly from frustrated residents held up on the work and school run, with some saying the drive from Albert Town to Wānaka took more than an hour. 

One mother spoke of being stuck on Aubrey Road for 40 minutes trying to get her children to school, another said her kids arrived 30 minutes late.

Another accused the council works of “poor timing”, considering the another roading project, on the state highway, at 'vet corner'. They asked why the works couldn't pause during the morning peak hour rush or be timed over night.

While one suggested people bill the council for the time lost sitting in traffic.

"For all those caught in traffic this am (morning) perhaps send invoices to QLDC for time, lost wages, fuel costs and general losses. It’s their poor planning that is impacting the populace. The cost overall must be mind blowing when one considers tradies sitting, school buses, transport companies losing time, and hundreds of vehicles sitting burning fuel," the post said.

Yesterday, the Queenstown Lakes District Council acknowledged the delays in a statement to the community Facebook page, apologising for the hassle it caused school busses, parents taking children to school, and those heading to work.

The council says it has made changes to allow the temporary traffic lights at the worksite to be manually operated during peak travel times at either end of the day to improve traffic flow.

"We’ll continue to monitor the intersection and will make further changes to how traffic moves through the construction site if required. However, users of the intersection should still expect some delays as we work to safely construct the new roundabout here while keeping the road open," the post said.

Today, reports are morning traffic moved more quickly in the area.

Work began on the new roundabout at the start of last week (Monday, September 11), and the lights are expected to be in use for approximately seven weeks.

In a media statement on September 8 detailing the work, the council says the new roundabout will make a “significant difference” to the efficiency and safety of transport for the growing number of vehicles and cyclists using the road.

The new roundabout will involve a slightly amended road layout, a raised courtesy crossing, and connect with a not-yet-complete Anderson Road shared pathway.

QLDC designs for the Aubrey Road and Anderson Road roundabout (Image: QLDC).

In the pipeline are another two roundabouts for council roads in the Upper Clutha area, with a tender for Hāwea’s long-awaited Capell Avenue and Domain Road roundabout going out last week, and designs for a Riverbank Road and Ballantyne Road roundabout being drawn up.

Waka Kotahi is also managing the build of a single-lane roundabout on State Highway Six near Mount Iron.

Main image (Facebook/Upper Clutha Community Notices): A photo out of the window of the school bus, posted to Facebook, of the long line of traffic into town earlier this week.

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