Call to plan, test traffic controls in advance

Traffic management around the construction site of the future Dunedin Hospital should be carefully planned before work begins, the NZ Transport Agency has urged.

In a response to questions from the independent panel assessing the first resource consent applications to fast-track the $1.47 billion project, the transport agency said it had worked closely with the Ministry of Health as building work could have "significant consequences" on traffic flow through Dunedin.

Given that, it told the panel it had negotiated an amendment to the draft conditions for the consent which said a traffic management plan had to be submitted to the agency and the Dunedin City Council at least a month before any works started.

"Testing the proposed temporary traffic management plans and agreeing to this in advance would be an appropriate approach, rather than setting up a network wide survey and monitoring process."

That would allow critical links and intersections to be identified ahead of time and to set up monitoring of those to ensure the already agreed plans were actually working, agency environmental planning team lead Richard Shaw said.

Those plans also needed to be flexible as other planned DCC projects such as work in George St, on Three Waters upgrades and streetscaping, could have a knock-on effect on traffic, Mr Shaw said.

"Given the central location of the new Dunedin hospital site, being adjacent to State Highway1 and State Highway88, the potential for network wide impacts is significant.

"A further concern is that two of the three emergency services [fire and police] access directly on to these transport corridors."

In its comments to the panel, Fire and Emergency New Zealand also highlighted this issue, in connection to both responding to callouts and parking appliances in the central fire station, which it needs to briefly stop traffic to do.

"This is currently the only way the fleet can access the building," property project manager Stephen Hill said.

"It will be important that this system remains operational during the construction phase, and that the building remains unobstructed at all times."

Fenz could not relocate during construction from a building which was both a central fire station and a regional headquarters, Mr Hill said.

"Road closures and diversions have the potential to adversely affect emergency response times and this has wider implications on the community and people’s lives more generally.

"It will be paramount that any road closures and diversions throughout the duration of the project are communicated to Fire and Emergency in a timely and efficient manner."

The panel is due to deliver its decision on the application on December 13, but has allowed itself to extend the decision-making period by up to a further 25 working days if needed.

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