Traffic control costs 'utter lunacy'

Evan Matheson
Evan Matheson
The $100,000 cost to date for traffic barriers and signs at the corner of Anzac Ave and Frederick St is lunacy, a Dunedin city councillor says.

The barriers and signs were erected in 2012 after State Highway 88 was realigned around Forsyth Barr Stadium, affecting access to the yard of Hall Bros Transport.

A High Court judge agreed with Hall Bros owner Doug Hall, now a city councillor, that the council had not consulted him properly about the land designation for the realignment.

The judge quashed the original designation, meaning the barriers had to stay put, and traffic lights at the intersection stay off, until the dispute was resolved.

No agreement has been reached, despite multiple attempts in the intervening two and a-half years, although a possible solution involving the sale of the site to another party is on the horizon.

The council has confirmed the barriers and signs have cost ratepayers $100,020 (excluding GST) during that period.

That included hire of barriers and signs and the use of a company to check the site twice a week and make any required adjustments.

Transportation projects engineer Evan Matheson said the option to purchase barriers, rather than hire, had been discussed a few times over the past two and a-half years.

''It appeared that resolution [to the dispute] was possible on a number of occasions, which would have meant our barrier and other costs would have stopped, only for discussions to stall or break down and the barrier hire costs to continue.''

There were 73 barriers on the site. They cost between $500 and $1100 each to buy, depending on their crash rating. Averaged out, it would have cost about $58,000 (excl GST) to buy them, compared with hire costs of $44,700 to date.

The cost for signs and management of the overall site - of another $55,250 - relate mainly to the cost of hiring traffic management company Traffic Management and Control Ltd to check the site twice a week.

Council staff did not do that work themselves because they no longer got involved with any physical work on sites, and focused instead on design and management of projects.

Cr Lee Vandervis described the spending as ''utter lunacy''.

He recognised six months in that the dispute was going to continue and urged staff then to buy barriers, he said.

''We've paid for them several times over. There's no way we're ahead on what we could have bought them for. I tried to get staff to look at that, but I've almost given up on suggesting low-cost solutions, because they simply don't care.''

He did not understand why council staff could not check the site themselves.

The decision-making reflected a culture at council where staff did not want to risk losing any budget or take any liability for anything, he said.

Infrastructure services committee chairwoman Cr Kate Wilson said she thought it was perhaps a situation where hindsight was wonderful.

She was sure staff were managing the situation in the most efficient way.



One would imagine that an enterprising Dunedin company could have manufactured the required barriers for a fraction of the cost to hire, should such an opportunity have been put out to ratepayers tender. [Abridged]

Get it sorted

Re the Anzac Ave-Frederick St drama - why was the road changed  from the original plan? Should heads roll? At the end of the day both sides should sit down and nut it out. This has gone on too long and it's costing us ratepayers heaps of money which we don't have.
Cr Kate Wilson, are you serious? Staff were  managing the situation in the most efficient way? Yeah, right. Over two years and not sorted. Sort the thing out now, not next week or next year. 


What are they paid for?

According to transportation projects engineer Evan Matheson council staff did not do that work themselves because they no
longer got involved with any physical work on sites, and
focused instead on design and management of projects. Considering they didn't get the latter part of his statement correct and don't partake in the former any longer, what are they actually being paid for?

No need to stand down

While I agree this has gone on too long, Mr Hall was elected with this dispute ongoing, by a populace well aware of it, and has abstained from council discussion where he has a conflict of interest. Like most people elected to governance he has conflicts; however as long as he doesn't act on behalf of the council there is no conflict of interest and no need to stand down.

Initial approval

I understood that the whole issue arose because our erstwhile council, in a moment of its usual utter brilliance, designed and built the change in the roading without bothering to check with the relevant land owners in the immediate area?

If this is so then I would suggest the council sacks the staff, at all levels, involved and immediately relocates the roading to its original plan and starts again following the correct procedures. If it were you or I who did something akin to this the council would be down on us like a ton of bricks!

Time for some real people to be on council and to get rid of all the twits that are currently there.



Common sense

Again Councillor Vandervis shows he seems to be the only councillor with any common sense business acumen and is not afraid to speak his mind. I noted last week, it was reported in the national press that councillor Vandervis also raised concerns about Citifleet two years ago.

The time has come

Quiet clearly these people on both sides are incabable of nothing more than spending money that is not theirs to spend. I am amazed that a conflict of interest is not happening here and agree the councilor should stand down. It is also apparent that after 2 plus years the time has come to put this out to mediation from an external source with any decisions made binding. 


Utter lunacy

Yep, Vandervis would be spot on there. The barriers and twice weekly site checks are no longer required. This intersection has been operational for a few years now and we all know the situation.

This is a situation of the rental company and the site management company getting fat at the expense of the ratepayer.

Put an end to it. Now.

Why do we tolerate...

Why do we tolerate having people on the city council who simply do not care how the ratepayers' money is being spent?

We need better minded people at that table. 

Most efficient . . ?

If the Infrastructure services chairwoman believes that spending a thousand dollars a week renting signs and barriers for this one intersection is "managing the situation in the most efficient way", it may be time to evaluate her position.

A private company has to"check the site twice a week"? What's that all about? The signs and barriers are unlikely to get up and walk away of their own volition. Instead of paying private contractors over $250 for each visit, surely someone employed by the Council could manage the 5 minute drive by twice a week?

This stupid dispute has been spun out for two years, costing ratepayers a small fortune in the process. It's time for our Council to get their act together, stop acting like children and find a compromise now. [abridged]


Mr Hall

Was he not elected to represent people of Dunedin, like the the rest of the council? Is he not part of discussions?

I think until it is sorted, and he and the council stop wasting our rates, he stands down.

What could $100,000 be spent on instead? Stop the stupidity, and sort out a deal for the city of Dunedin, Mr Hall and Council.

Bringing a councillor and owner of the land, is it not a conflict of interest?

One very angry ratepayer here!

Sort it out!

For goodness sake - it's taking an eternity to remedy this situation. Two and a half years?!

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