It has taken 12 years, numerous complaints from the Mount Barker Residents Association and $6.4 million but Ballantyne Rd in Wanaka has been sealed.
The road that links State Highway 6 near Wanaka Airport with Wanaka has been the subject of many heated debates about road safety between residents, the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) and the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA).
Over the years, there have been numerous crashes on the undulating road, caused by poor visibility, dust and uneven surfaces.
In 2016, residents’ worst nightmare occurred when 17-year-old Jackson James Aitchison was killed when his ute hit a tree on October 10.
In June this year, a coroner investigating the cause of Jackson’s death recommended Ballantyne Rd be fully sealed.
At the time of Jackson’s accident, Ballantyne Rd was an unmarked road that transitioned between sealed and gravel with two speed limits respectively.
Wanaka Community Board deputy chairman Ed Taylor, the board representative on the Mount Barker Residents Association, said he had to thank residents, who had been putting up with a substandard road for so long, and the contractors and staff who had delivered a “great piece of infrastructure”.
Residents had told him they loved the new road, felt safer driving and were pleased the dust clouds had gone, he said.
“[It’s] the end of a long journey for many residents along that stretch of the road. They have been asking for this for more than a decade.
“And it’s more than just the road being sealed. This stretch of Ballantyne Rd has been made far safer and fit for purpose for many decades to come,” Mr Taylor said.
Power poles have been replaced, fences have been standardised on the correct boundary, fibre optic and other cables are located in one piece of ducting and drainage work has been completed.
Mr Taylor said there was still a short section of unsealed road in the Mt Barker area.
“It would be great to get at least some Otta seal on them so residents no longer have to put up with huge dust storms every time a strong northerly kicks in,” he said.