'Road to nowhere' cutbacks miss $400,000 art panels

by Peter Newport - Mar 14, 2024

Attempts by the Queenstown Lakes District Council to cut costs on the massively over budget $128 million arterial road (stage one) have missed around $400,000 of expenditure on concrete art panels that have cost $395,236.

The panels were installed late last year just as the council and their alliance partners were cutting other aspects of the project including a pedestrian walkway near St Joseph's School.

The council has provided the following run down of the art panel costs:

  • Artwork including sandblasting onto the panels – $93,185+gst.
  • Manufacturing cost including transportation – $265,198+gst.
  • Cost of installation – $36,853+gst.

The panel artwork, whose creators include renowned Kiwi singer-songwriter Marlon Williams, comprises intricate designs and phrases referencing local places of significance to Ngāi Tahu.

There is no funding available for stages 2 and 3 of the troubled arterial project, earning it the title "the road to nowhere".

At $128 milion for just 670 metres the road is believed to be one of the msot expensive ever built in New Zealand.

Just recently newly laid arterial road asphalt had to be ripped up due to what the QLDC initially said were "cooler weather conditions" but then the council changed the reason to "faulty test equipment". 

Councillors have been warned that further cost blowouts may still be possible.

The project is employing as many as 60 managers and went $2 million over budget just on traffic control with managers blaming "tourists looking at the mountains".

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