Council notes roading strategic cases

The first step towards securing funding for major changes to Dunedin's road networks has been taken by the Dunedin City Council, even though exactly what those changes will be is yet to be decided.

Councillors yesterday noted council staff had taken the first of six steps in a new process for applying for funding from the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

''Strategic cases'' had been submitted for two projects - one to improve the ''access, mobility and safety'' of the central city road network and the other to enhance the freight network.

The new process requires applicants to submit a ''strategic case'' identifying the problems they want to fix, which must be approved before they submit a business case for solutions.

The request was for councillors simply to note the strategic cases, which were developed by a working group of staff, some councillors and other key stakeholders such as NZTA and heavy traffic groups.

The cases had already been lodged with NZTA so that staff, pending approval, could begin preparing a business case within the required deadlines.

The strategic cases identified the main problems with the central city network as being the one-way pair bisecting the city; conflict between vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians; car parking favouring the use of cars; and the design, management and integration of public transport discouraging its use.

The main problems with the freight network were poor connections between State Highway 1 and State Highway 88 to Port Otago; routing freight through town centres; and the potential for more rail activity at St Andrew St to impede traffic flow to the port.

Despite the problems being the same as those identified in the integrated transport strategy adopted by councillors last year, Crs Hilary Calvert and Lee Vandervis asked what solutions the problems appeared to be leaning towards, and why councillors were not more involved in developing the strategic cases.

Cr Calvert said her concern was that ''99% of the solution was established when the problem was established'' and in this case the problems were established by people not chosen by the council.

She was reminded by Cr Andrew Noone that councillors would have plenty of opportunities at the next stage to thrash out possible solutions.

''To sit here and not take it to the next stage is ignoring the issues we do have in the city.''

Cr Vandervis said the problems identified were based on ''absurd or probably false'' assumptions, including that there was too much parking in Dunedin, that public transport patronage could be increased by restricting parking and that encouraging more people to cycle would make the roads safer.

''As long as they continue to be the driving assumptions, we're going to spend a lot of dollars on something that won't work in the long term.''

Operations network general manager Tony Avery assured councillors the intention was to come to the council for input before a business case for funding for the desired solutions was put to the NZTA.

Cr Benson-Pope said he was disappointed that councillors would denigrate the city's public transport and cycling, and urged councillors to get on with it.

''We are having to jump through NZTA hoops whether we like it or not, but it would be an exercise in futility not to jump through the hoops.''

The resolution was passed 10-2. Crs Calvert and Vandervis voted against it.

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