The traffic engineer hired by Betterways Advisory Ltd to
help progress Dunedin's waterfront hotel has rejected claims
the project was fatally flawed.
Andy Carr, of Carriageway Consultants, said he remained
''extremely confident'' any traffic issues posed by the hotel
development could have been resolved.
He also confirmed developer Jing Song was aware of that, but
could not explain her reasons for pulling out of the project
and scrapping a memorandum of understanding with the Dunedin
Ms Song did not respond to a request for comment, but allowed
Mr Carr to talk to the Otago Daily Times.
Her move came after the ODT on Thursday reported
emails showed Ms Song and her representatives had been kept
informed by council staff about progress to resolve traffic
issues at the hotel site.
Mr Carr represented Betterways at a workshop on March 17,
held to discuss potential traffic solutions, which was also
attended by council staff and the council's planning and
Ms Song tore up the agreement with the council weeks later,
on Monday, after accusing the council of failing to produce a
completed traffic report by a March 21 deadline or keep her
Mr Carr told the ODT he had been bound by a
confidentiality agreement until after the workshop, which
aimed to avoid ''misinformation or misunderstandings'' being
spread about the project.
However, he had briefed Ms Song in phone calls and emails
after the workshop, while waiting for the results of the
consultants' efforts at the workshop to be formalised and
released by the council.
He said he had kept Ms Song updated ''as much as I was able
to do so'', but did not know why the completed traffic report
had taken so long.
''That, presumably, is a council internal matter.''
It was ''a shame that the politics has overtaken'' the
project, as the traffic issues were all but resolved and he
had been ''extremely confident'' the project was to proceed
to the next stage, he said.
''There were certainly no big show-stoppers there.
''If there was any major concerns that had been raised at the
workshop I would certainly have briefed [Ms Song] on those,
but there were no such concerns that were raised.''
His comments came after Mayor Dave Cull on Monday accused Ms
Song of ''abrogating this agreement on a pretext'',
suggesting she must have realised traffic problems posed by
the hotel were ''insurmountable''.
The following day, council infrastructure and networks
general manager Tony Avery confirmed the consultants had
identified traffic options that ''potentially were
However, more work had been needed to assess their wider
impact when Ms Song terminated the project, he said.
That raised questions about why Ms Song would pull out of the
deal, having spent more than $1 million over three years,
when traffic work was close to completion.
Ms Song said earlier this week that was ''not strange''.
''In business, time is everything ... We have given the
council a month after a month after a month, and we just seem
to be endlessly waiting.''
Mr Carr would not speculate on Ms Song's motives and said he
did not know whether her reasons were genuine.
''I can only talk for the traffic ... I was, and I still am,
confident that there are no substantial traffic issues that
could not be resolved that would enable the hotel to go
''For any party to say that they weren't - the traffic
experts that were at that workshop would beg to disagree.''
He had no instructions from Ms Song to work on alternative
plans or a different site.
''It's really just 'put your pen down' at this stage ... I
don't know Jing's plans.''