Cost of reopening road may double

The trial reopening of John Wilson Ocean Dr has been scrapped and costs have increased after a...
The trial reopening of John Wilson Ocean Dr has been scrapped and costs have increased after a decision by councillors yesterday. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
The long-running saga over the future of Dunedin's John Wilson Ocean Dr has taken another twist, with the cost of reopening the road likely to double to nearly $500,000.

It is also likely the seaside road will remain closed to motorists for longer than had been signalled, and vehicle access could be more restricted.

The changes come after Cr Fliss Butcher - on behalf of the hearings committee that heard public submissions on the road last year - tabled a revised list of recommendations at yesterday's 2011-12 pre-draft annual plan hearing.

Councillors had been expected to vote on "Option B" for the road's redevelopment, which would have the road developed into a shared space for motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and others at a cost of $220,519.

In the meantime, the road was to be reopened to motorists as a trial as early as today, initially from 7.30am to 7.30pm daily until March 31, and then from 8am to 5.30pm daily until June 30, until consultation as part of the annual plan process was complete.

Instead, Cr Fliss Butcher's changes recommended the more expensive "Option C" for the road's redevelopment, costing $487,519.

The extra cost included $107,000 for a new mechanical arm to control vehicle access to the road, as well as other additional improvements, councillors were told.

The change also scrapped the proposed trial, with the road to remain closed until it was safe to reopen, and reduced the hours it would eventually be open to motorists to 10am to 3pm daily.

Cr Butcher said the changes were in keeping with the intention of the hearings committee's recommendations, which she believed offered the best solution, and urged councillors not to rehash the debate.

Worries about the extra cost could be addressed by staging the work, she said, although no details were given.

"We know it's got a cost attached to it, but we are going with it," she said.

The change won support from Cr Richard Thomson, who said it "struck the right balance", and Cr Bill Acklin - a member of the hearings panel - who believed it would allow the council to "do the job properly".

Cr Jinty MacTavish said it was an "admirable compromise", but could not support the "unacceptably high" cost.

Cr Teresa Stevenson said the spending was a "waste" and the money would be better spent on more city cycleways, while Cr Lee Vandervis wondered why nearly $500,000 was needed to reopen a road motorists had enjoyed free access to for many years.

Councillors voted 11-3 in favour of the revised plan, which would be subject to further public consultation through the annual plan process.


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