Good intentions not enough

Vanessa van Uden.
Vanessa van Uden.
''Better judgement'' could have avoided costly mistakes being made in the installation of traffic safety improvements at Cardrona, a review has found.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council review into the construction of traffic safety improvements at Cardrona in October has found that, while proper processes were followed, there were instances where ''better judgement in the implementation of the project could have avoided unnecessary costs''.

The review was ordered by council chief executive Adam Feeley after traffic-slowing rumble strips at either end of Cardrona village had to be removed a month after installation because they were a safety hazard for cyclists and motorcyclists.

The cost of installing and removing the $50,000 devices was $55,000, shared between the council and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

QLDC Mayor Vanessa van Uden said there was no suggestion any staff member or contractor wilfully disregarded safety issues or failed to follow required processes.

''However, good intentions are not enough when it comes to spending public money. The errors of judgement need to be acknowledged and, more importantly, the public need to be assured that steps have been taken to minimise the risk of this occurring again,'' she said.

The project, including the budget, was approved by the Wanaka Community Board and was in keeping with the Cardrona village design guidelines. NZTA provided 100% of the funding for half the work and 53% for the remaining costs.

''While the proposal of a rumble zone of river stones was intended to be an effective and visually pleasing solution, the novelty of the solution was such that alternative options should have been considered in greater detail and presented to the community board for consideration,'' Ms van Uden said.

''The decision to raise the level of the river stones during the construction stage exacerbated these safety risks and was a matter that should have been discussed more widely within council prior to the action being taken.''

Mr Feeley agreed the public interest in managing costs demanded greater care with the information and advice given to the council. He noted operational changes had already been made as a result of the inquiry.

''I am satisfied that the issues which have arisen are not symptomatic of any systemic failures,'' Mr Feeley said.

''This was a one-off lapse of judgement from an otherwise professional team which is committed to deliver high quality and cost-effective transport projects, and the lessons learnt have been incorporated to operational processes.''

QLDC general manager infrastructure and assets Erik Barnes said no decision had been made yet about alternative traffic calming measures for Cardrona.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz