Councillors set to decide Ocean Dr debate

The two-and-a-half-year debate over the future of John Wilson Ocean Dr in Dunedin could be about to come to an end.

Councillors at today's Dunedin City Council meeting will decide whether to grant final approval to reinstating vehicle access on the closed section of scenic drive, leading to Lawyers Head, for almost the first time since 2006.

Councillors at the last community development committee on November 30 voted narrowly in favour of restoring motorists' access between 11am and 2pm each day, excluding weekends and public holidays.

That vote was tied 6-6 until Cr Bill Acklin used his casting vote as committee chairman to ensure it progressed to today's council meeting for final approval.

Councillors were expected to debate the issue again today, and, with Crs Paul Hudson, Lee Vandervis and Mayor Dave Cull having missed last month's vote, the result might not be a forgone conclusion.

Councillors at last month's meeting had been considering a staff report recommending an $88,777 upgrade of the road, to add speed humps, new road markings and other traffic-calming measures, before opening it to motorists.

They eventually voted to lower the road's speed limit to 30kmh and approve the $88,777 upgrade funding, but only spend it if monitoring of driver behaviour showed it was warranted.

However, a staff report prepared for today's council meeting said crash records on the road showed a safety upgrade would be needed.

The report, by council senior traffic engineer Ron Minnema, said 14 crashes were recorded on the closed section of John Wilson Ocean Dr - north of the bollards - between 2002 and its closure to vehicles in 2006.

Two of the crashes resulted in serious injuries, and five crashes in minor injuries, but none involved pedestrians or cyclists, he said.

Speed surveys undertaken in the area in 2004 had also recorded mean vehicle speeds of 43kmh, and it was "likely that similar speeds would be recorded on the level section of John Wilson Ocean Dr", his report said.

That meant the safety upgrade would be needed to ensure motorists complied with the planned 30kmh speed limit, his report said.

However, a complicating factor was a planned $125,000 resealing of the entire road, irrespective of whether it was reopened to vehicles, in 2012-13.

The report identified four upgrade options for reopening the road, but suggested two that met councillors' concerns.

One would see traffic-calming measures added, old road markings removed and new ones added early next year at a cost of $74,000, and then followed by the $75,000 resealing of the section of road north of the bollards in 2012-13.

That option would cater sooner for motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and others, but mean extra costs of $29,000 if the work was not co-ordinated with resealing work, Mr Minnema's report said.

Alternatively, the traffic-calming measures, re-marking and other work could be delayed until 2012-13, then completed in conjunction with the planned resealing project, his report said.

That meant the need to remove existing markings would be avoided, lowering the project cost to $45,000, along with the $75,000 resealing project, he said.

However, the extra delay might not be acceptable to the community, he said.

The first option would cost $149,000 for traffic-calming and resealing, and the second option $120,000, but both would attract total maintenance costs of $29,000 and operating costs of $43,000 over the next 15 years, his report said.

That meant total costs rising to $221,000 for the first option, and $192,000 for the second option, over 15 years.



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