Those on either side of the debate about whether John Wilson
Ocean Dr should be reopened to vehicles largely begrudgingly
accept the compromise the council is proposing.
But no-one is holding their breath about when it will happen.
Dunedin city councillors decided on Monday to go with an
option in which the road would be resealed after six years'
closure and split into a 5m-wide road - open to vehicles
weekdays between 11am and 3pm - and a 4m-wide pedestrian
The two would be separated by a concrete kerb and
intermittent planted islands.
But a speed limit is yet to be decided, and the $160,000 cost
could increase if further work is needed on the road to slow
Those who wanted the road reopened said while they were not
"ecstatic" about the plan, they would accept it if it meant
they could drive up the road again.
Joan Mann, who spearheaded a 2011 petition signed by 1357
people who wanted the road reopened to vehicles, said she was
not totally happy about the plan, particularly its lack of
parking, which, she said, was what most people did - drove
along and parked up for a while to enjoy the view - but she
would "live with it" if it meant the road opened again.
Still, she was not confident the decision would stick.
"I'm not so sure at all. They [the council] do seem to change
their minds a bit."
When the work will be done depends
on a decision to be taken in December on what speed limit
councillors prefer. It stands at 50kmh under the current
plan, but if councillors want to reduce it to 20kmh, as per a
recommendation from the speed limits bylaw hearings
subcommittee, a fundamental design change could be required,
including the installation of more traffic-calming measures,
to keep speeds down.
That has several potential fishhooks for councillors,
including that it could cost more, and the cheapest option
for keeping speeds down could be unfavoured speed humps.
Mrs Mann said she was not worried about the speed limit, and
could deal with speed humps if the road would just be opened.
AA Otago chairman Jeff Donaldson said while it was a
compromise, AA's members would be pleased to once again have
vehicle access, and sooner rather than later.
However, open-road supporter Dave Crooks did not support the
change without any parking, and said a compromise where the
bollards were moved back 500m towards Lawyers Head would have
"I just hope it gets to be open in my lifetime."
Gerrard Liddell, from the John Wilson Promenaders, said the
group would continue to argue for keeping the area as a
promenade, because there was no other area like it Dunedin,
while drivers had plenty of other places to go.
The decision would basically change the area into a road and
footpath, he said.
"If you want to walk with cars beside you, you already have
ample opportunity in Dunedin."
Wheelchair user Ken McIntosh, who preferred the road remained
closed, said the separate pedestrian zone should be adequate,
although he would feel safer using it if the speed of traffic
on the road was kept down to 20kmh.
However, he thought the amount of money being spent to do the
work was "completely stupid", when leaving it as it was would
He did not have a lot of confidence it would actually happen
"The chance of them changing their minds before it is put to
bed is highly likely."
Dunedin police yesterday had no comment on what they said was
the council's decision to make.
Police have supported the road's continued closure as a
method to reduce the number of deaths in the area.