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Council staff had been asked to consider converting six signal-controlled intersections along Princes and George Sts to Barnes Dance crossings.
Barnes Dance crossings stopped all vehicles and allowed pedestrians to cross in any direction instead, and calls to investigate the idea had come from two speakers at a recent council public forum.
However, council strategy and development general manager Sue Bidrose said staff had investigated the idea several years ago, and concluded traffic congestion that resulted would make the main streets "unworkable".
"At the moment you have two phases for each set of traffic lights . . . once you get a Barnes Dance you have a three-phase set of lights.
"It holds up the traffic quite markedly."
Cost was also an issue, with a "back of an envelope" estimate suggesting it would cost $80,000 to conduct a new detailed investigation of the idea, including traffic modelling work, she said.
It would also cost a further $20,000 to change markings and signal phases at each intersection, she said.
That meant the total cost could rise to $200,000, if six major intersections were changed between Cargills Corner, in South Dunedin, along Princes St and George St, to the Pitt St intersection, she said.
"Nobody would do that because it would be a waste of money," she said.
Instead, council staff would consider possible improvement options - including a Barnes Dance crossing - for Cargills Corner over the next few months, as part of South Dunedin revitalisation work, she said.
Options for other central city intersections would be considered as council staff looked at various ways of improving inner city traffic flows, as part of work on a new central city strategy already under way, she said.
That project would continue for the next few years, identifying short and long-term projects, but it was not yet clear when Barnes Dances would be considered, council city development manager Anna Johnson said.