Drive to reopen; debate over speed

John Wilson Ocean Dr. Photo by ODT.
John Wilson Ocean Dr. Photo by ODT.
After years of going around in circles, the Dunedin City Council yesterday decided to reopen John Wilson Ocean Dr to vehicles.

The road will be opened to vehicles between 11am and 3pm weekdays from early next year. It will be resealed and have road marking added before being reopened.

The speed limit will be 50kmh.

Mayor Dave Cull who proposed the idea, said it was a temporary measure until money was raised to install the layout required for the intended permanent solution - of reducing the speed limit to 20kmh and separating pedestrians and cyclists from vehicles.

It was a compromise, he said, that at least could be accepted by pedestrians and motorists and would not cost the council much more than already budgeted for this year.

The compromise solution did reveal some indecision remained for councillors.

After a resolution was passed that the goal was to reduce the vehicle speed limit to 20kmh, another was passed agreeing the limit could remain at 50kmh if the interim arrangement was found to be working satisfactorily after the first few months.

The road has been mostly closed since 2006, when it was shut while the Tahuna outfall pipe was installed.

It remained closed afterwards while councillors decided on the safest way to reopen it.

It was reopened to vehicles during weekday daylight hours in 2009, but closed again two weeks later after a death in the vicinity, and has since become increasingly popular as a walking area.

Mr Cull said about $71,700 was already budgeted for the project and an extra $8300 would have to be found from existing budgets.

The alternative was to spend up to $100,000 to install enough traffic calming and pedestrian protection measures to keep speeds to 20kmh.

''[The interim option] maintains the integrity of the current budget, but still attains the objective the council wants to achieve."

The road would be open to cars by February or March.

Cr Paul Hudson said the speed limit should be 20kmh from the outset, but council senior traffic engineer Ron Minnema responded it was unlikely cars would stick to it without traffic calming measures.

Although councillors could legally set any speed limit they wanted, under land transport rules they were required to put in measures that kept mean traffic speeds within 5kmh of the posted limit.

Of the 14 councillors present, five voted against the interim measure, eight for it, and one, Cr Jinty MacTavish, abstained because she did not think 50kmh was an appropriate speed.

An advocate for reopening the road to vehicles, Joan Mann, yesterday said she felt ''exhausted'' after the decision was made.

Although not altogether confident that it would actually happen, after years of ''dithering'', she was happy with the compromise and would be ''down there lining up on the first day''.

John Wilson Promenaders organiser Gerard Liddell said last night the decision was a ''great disappointment'' that would result in the loss of Dunedin's only promenade.

''It's the only wide, proper walkway that you would recognise in Dunedin.

The 50kmh speed limit along the road also raised potential safety issues and would have to be ''monitored very carefully'', he added.


Council lobbying

Anyone intrested in this joke of a council decision will now be well aware of the lobbying that must have gone on. I was quite sad to see how weak many of our councillors really are. Nice one Bill Acklin for working so hard on something, for a change.


Two questions please

I still want to know what happens to someone who starts their trip before 3pm but doesn't make it back to the gates by 3pm. Will they be locked in, or will there be wardens herding errant drivers off the drive before lock-up time?
And I still want to know why very simple road works cost so much in Dunedin. How can it possibly cost $80,000 for a gate so the road can be used? It seems we just accept these figures when quoted by council staff without asking what value we are getting for our money. Perhaps it is $10,000 for the job and $70,000 for council fees and inspections.



It could only happen in Dunedin

These opening hours are, basically, what was proposed many months ago. At the time, I thought they were an attempt to have access to John Wilson Drive rendered so inconvenient, for most, that there would be little demand by people wishing to drive there at those times. I think these ridiculous opening hours are merely an attempt to bring about the same outcome.
What would be wrong with having the Drive open by (say) 7am, and closing again at 7pm (or, say, 5pm during the winter months), seven days per week, with access for dog-walkers, pedestrians, cyclists and non-vehicular users at all times?
The drive's closure for the 'poo-pipe' was obviously regarded by self-interested groups as a setting a precedent which they have fought tooth-and-nail to retain.
The drive was not created for exclusively for them and their various interests. It was created to be shared by the people of Dunedin as a whole, and it is their right to expect that they will be able to enjoy its continued use, and make their own choice(s) as to their preferred means of conveyance. [Abridged]


Why the time limits?

Can someone explain to me the logic behind the limited hours opening?

As a working person I can still no longer enjoy the scenic drive. The fact this whole situation has taken place then taken sooooo long to get reopened with such stupid restrictions, just goes to show that the council like to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

If people are so worried about the speed or boy racers then just get a speed camera installed...



Finally we get our drive back a little closer to the way it was as, it should have never been taken off motorist in the first place. [Abridged]

Common sense

Its obvious these councillors have no common sense and have to go!  The road should be open until sunset and the speed set to 20km/hr while it is shared with walkers - no speed humps needed.

Instead of worrying about the wharf area and Vogel street, John Wilson drive could be turned into a lovely recreational area with a tiered access. Below the road build a bike track, then a walking track with seats. Have a look at the setup in Mooloolaba north of Brisbane.

We need councillors that listen to ratepayers and not to  DCC staff with crazy ideas that get implemented.


With all respect to Ms Mann arguing over how to stop more people from committing suicide once the road is reopened is not "dithering" - it's a serious issue that should be treated seriously , one that has still not been resolved


After giving into the pressure from motorists to open the drive to vehicles so that they can enjoy the views from their car why have such a high speed limit. At that speed they need their full attention on driving, not looking at the views especially with non motorised people about enjoying the walk and views. A maximum speed limit of say 10 kmh will give the motorists a chance to have a view while driving and make it more pleasant for others than having a maximum speed limit of 50 kmh. 


Other considerations

But I want to drive there after 3: 05 pm each day as it suits me better. Also I think they should reduce the speed limit to 5km per hour so cars don't have an unfair advantage, over walkers, to get to Lawyers' Head first.

The extra $8000 needed for the reopening still has to be 'found'. What a shame. They have just spent $750k on a community users' fund for the stadium. They 'found' that OK. I wonder where that sum of money was hiding.

Nothing is simple, eh. 

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