Division over road widening

Riccarton Rd residents appear to be split over the potential benefits and pitfalls of widening the road.

It was reported in Taieri Times on February 12 that a stretch of road between half a kilometre and a kilometre long will be widened during the 2014-15 construction season.

After the article, some residents raised concerns that the road widening would encourage more use by heavy traffic.

Resident Brian Miller told Taieri Times he felt the Dunedin City Council had ''led us up the garden path'' in regards to the reasons for widening the road.

If the road was widened, it would remain unsafe as more heavy traffic would use it, he said.

''They [the council] have created the unsafe road by diverting heavy traffic down a road which isn't made for heavy traffic,'' he said.

Another Riccarton Rd resident said she felt the work needed to be done sooner rather than later as it was ''an accident waiting to happen''.

''The road needs to be widened and made safer,'' said the woman, who wanted to remain anonymous.

People could die as a result of the unsafe road if widening work was not carried out, she said.

Both sides had ''valid concerns'', but the road needed to be widened and the council needed to make it clear it was not a heavy traffic bypass, she said.

Mr Miller also raised concerns the council could use powers available under the Public Works Act to take the land from landowners.

Such measures could ''put us out of business and put five people out of work'', he said.

Council roading projects engineer Evan Matheson said the Public Works Act would be used ''very much as a last resort'', although it was ''always an option''.

It was hoped the council and landowners could ''reach suitable outcomes by mutual agreement''.

Council transportation planning manager Sarah Connolly reiterated the road was not a heavy traffic bypass, although some heavy traffic already used it.

''We haven't got any intention to ban them [heavy vehicles] using it and we aren't planning on encouraging them to use it,'' she said.

The $2.6 million upgrade was approved by the council in 2011.

timothy.brown@odt.co.nz

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