Highway crossing concerns

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A proposed zebra crossing instead of an underpass for children crossing State Highway 84 is a “recipe for disaster”, Wanaka Primary School board of trustees chairman Andrew Howard says.

The release last week of proposed enrolment zones for the new Wanaka South Primary School to be built at Three Parks highlighted that children from Albert Town and surrounding areas would have to cross the highway to reach the school.

The NZ Transport Authority (NZTA) submitted a notice of requirement to the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) to install a two-lane roundabout on SH84 but included a pedestrian crossing point rather than an underpass.

Mr Howard said a pedestrian crossing near a roundabout on an 80kmh highway was “not a safe solution for children attending school”.

“I absolutely support the building of an underpass across SH84.

“A combination of high-speed traffic, children and surface crossings is a recipe for disaster.”

Active Transport Wanaka was also renewing its calls for construction of an underpass, spokesman Simon Telfer said.

It was concerned about children getting from the east side of town across SH84 to the new school, pool and recreation area at Three Parks, he said.

Having those areas within the proposed zone would “place far more pressure on the movement of people from Albert Town across to Three Parks”.

QLDC general manager property and infrastructure Peter Hansby said underpass options had not been formally considered by the council and there was no specific budget in the 2018-28 10-year plan.

“Council officers are working with NZTA to understand the options for a pedestrian/cycle crossing in this location in the future,” he said.

The investigation work would determine what options were available.

“Once this is complete we can consider how to deliver and fund the preferred solution.”

Wanaka South Primary School establishment board chairman Dr Ian Hall said the board was confident the Ministry of Education was pursuing the issue of safe access to the new school with the QLDC and NZTA.

“We remain hopeful that the issues are well understood by the relevant parties and we are confident that an appropriate solution will be agreed upon and actioned well before the new school opens in January 2020.”

Ministry of Education acting head of education infrastructure service Rob Giller said the ministry was working with parties including the Establishment Board of Trustees, NZTA, the district council and developers to reach a safe solution for the crossing before the school opened.

A community information meeting on the proposed enrolment zones was planned for December 4 from 7pm in the staffroom at Wanaka Primary School.

NZTA senior traffic safety engineer Roy Johnston said although the current roundabout design included a crossing point, the NZTA and QLDC were also investigating underpass options.