Sawyers Bay man Patrick Best was among hundreds of Dunedin
motorists caught in an hour-long traffic jam caused by
botched roadworks at Ravensbourne yesterday morning. Photo
by Stephen Jaquiery.
Cruise-ship passengers were left fuming and hundreds of
Dunedin motorists endured a frustrating crawl to work, after
botched road works on State Highway 88 caused major delays
The snarl-up, on the only direct route between Port Chalmers
and the central city, prompted an apology from the New
Zealand Transport Agency, after problems at Ravensbourne
snowballed into yesterday's traffic chaos.
That came too late to prevent queues of ''scathing''
cruise-ship passengers forming at Port Chalmers while they
waited for buses caught in the congestion, Taieri Gorge
Railway chief executive Murray Bond said.
It also prompted a warning from Mr Bond, after more than 50
cruise-ship passengers missed train trips as a result.
The missed bookings had cost the company about $5000, and he
planned to seek compensation from the NZTA, he said.
With four more cruise ships expected today and tomorrow, the
roadworks would need to be ''perfect'' to cope with the
influx of visitors, he warned.
''My God, if that road is not perfect, there's going to be
His comments came after commuters heading to work yesterday
morning found themselves ensnared in a queue of hundreds of
cars, buses, trucks and emergency vehicles stretching back
The week-long resealing project - from 100m east of the Parry
St roundabout to the Ravensdown fertiliser works - began on
Saturday and had been publicised in advance by NZTA staff.
Work was supposed to be carried out during the hours of
darkness and the road reopened by 6am each day, but one lane
remained closed until after 8am as work continued yesterday.
As a result, some motorists used to a 10-minute trip into the
city instead found themselves stranded for more than an hour,
as the queue stretched back from Ravensbourne to St Leonards.
Others found it quicker to drive from Sawyers Bay to the
central city via Waitati, rather than wait for the traffic to
Some of those stuck in the queue vented their frustration at
contractors, while others wound down their windows to tell
the Otago Daily Times the situation was ''madness''
and ''complete incompetence''.
Sawyers Bay resident Patrick Best (42), after being stuck in
the queue for an hour, asked why warnings were not broadcast
on the radio.
''I thought it was terrible ... whoever organised it, that
was a shambles.''
NZTA senior network manager John Jarvis said the lack of
warning was one of the lessons learned yesterday.
''We should have got a message out to the public,'' he said.
He also apologised for the delays, saying the problems
stemmed from ''soft spots'' found under the old asphalt that
warped, forcing motorists to slow down and queues to build
Any delay over 10 minutes was ''unacceptable'', he said.
''We acknowledge there was a major issue here.''
Downer Otago Southland general manager Mike Costelloe said
his staff had overlooked the soft spots as they worked
through the night.
The problem was noticed only about 7am, by which time it was
too late to fix them before traffic began to build, he said.
One lane remained closed while a temporary seal was added on
top of the soft spots, and congestion did not clear until
about 10.30am, he said.
''The mistake was not identified we had a problem earlier in
the night,'' he said.
Both men said the problem had been addressed, and would not
be repeated, as work continued into next week.
Mr Bond said the loss of paying passengers was ''another
blow'', following the cancellation of three cruise ship
visits earlier this season.
Passengers left waiting for buses at Port Chalmers, and those
who missed their train rides after booking up to a year in
advance, had been ''particularly scathing of Dunedin'', he
Passenger Transport director Kayne Baas agreed the city's
reputation had taken a ''bit of a knock'', and said the
queues of cruise ship passengers left waiting at Port
Chalmers were ''pretty massive''.
His company had to put on extra buses to provide scheduled
tours of the city and ferry cruise ship passengers to and
from Port Chalmers, which also came at a cost, he said.
''It was pretty stressful for the cruise ship, the passengers
''You've just got to hope that they [passengers] see the
reasonable side of it and people just relax a little bit and