Council and NZTA at odds over one-way

A decision to keep the popular one-way traffic system through central Dunedin is being fought by the city council.

Elected officials are pushing instead for a programme that would reconfigure the heart of the city, introducing a northbound lane to the southbound State Highway1 route and turning Cumberland St into a two-way local road.

Rethinking SH1 through the city centre would deliver more benefits than the status quo or tweaking the status quo, Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said.

One-way should stay in Cumberland St, central Dunedin, the NZ Transport Agency says. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
One-way should stay in Cumberland St, central Dunedin, the NZ Transport Agency says. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
The approach is summarised in documents as an opportunity to promote transformational change, make Cumberland St a "people-focused local road", enhance the pedestrian environment and make walking and cycling more attractive.

Public feedback on the one-way system.
Public feedback on the one-way system.

Several city councillors and the NZ Transport Agency are not on board and public sentiment has traditionally been strongly in favour of keeping the busy one-way system.

Reliable journey times for drivers on key transport routes is listed among the benefits of retaining the one-way system in an upgraded form.

The transport agency’s board backed a business case promoting that option, prompting the council to push for an alternative approach as the starting point for deeper discussion.

Planned construction of the new Dunedin hospital between the SH1 one-way pair of routes has forced national and local government officials to confront issues such as hospital access, traffic speeds and safety.

Transport Minister Michael Wood is due to visit Dunedin in April and the Otago Daily Times has been told discussion of the highway is on his agenda.

About three-quarters of respondents to a transport agency survey in 2020 wanted the one-way system to be retained.

An alternative model had since been refined, but the agency still preferred the one-way system.

Councillors voted 7-5 last month to push for the alternative — known as programme 2 version 3 — after a debate behind closed doors.

The result was made public after the transport agency confirmed its stance this week.

In a letter to the agency’s chief executive and copied to government ministers, Mr Hawkins said the alternative programme had far greater alignment with city strategic goals.

"It also has the unequivocal support of both the University of Otago and the Southern District Health Board."

Cr David Benson-Pope said the agency’s preferred option was suboptimal.

Several councillors disagreed strongly with what the slim majority voted for.

Cr Carmen Houlahan said a two-way model would cause more traffic congestion.

"When people get on the one-way at the end of a busy day, they just want to get home as quickly as possible," Cr Houlahan said.

"They do not want to sit in extra traffic and worry about people wandering out on the road because it has been designated ‘people-friendly’."

Cr Jules Radich said the one-way system was critical to traffic flow through Dunedin.

"Transit time is very important to business success," he said.

Cr Andrew Whiley said the one-way system had been proven effective and a two-way system would "ruin" traffic movement.

Cr Rachel Elder said many objectives could be achieved with either system.

She had concerns about a two-way system exacerbating traffic congestion.

Cr Lee Vandervis said the one-way system should be retained as the only practical way of moving large traffic volumes north and south through the city.

In his letter, Mr Hawkins noted the business case said the alternative programme "provides better outcomes for liveability, place quality, travel choice, connectivity and zero carbon".

Mr Hawkins said a health impact assessment "was even more direct" about the two-way model offering better results for health and wellbeing.

DCC stance

The  Dunedin City Council supports programme 2 version 3  as the basis for future discussion.

FOR (7): Mayor Aaron Hawkins, Crs Christine Garey, David Benson-Pope, Jim O’Malley, Sophie Barker, Steve Walker, Marie Laufiso.

AGAINST (5): Crs Carmen Houlahan, Jules Radich, Andrew Whiley, Rachel Elder, Mike Lord.

NOT PRESENT FOR VOTE (3): Crs Lee Vandervis, Doug Hall, Chris Staynes.


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They want to get home as soon as possible? This may account for accidents on pedestrian crossings and the hazardous intersection light phasing at night.

DCC has already made a mess of traffic in central Dunedin. It appears their one focus is to stuff it completely. Thank you to the councillors who see sense and want to retain the one way system. The sooner the others retire the better unless they learn to listen to what the people (and NZTA) want.

Here's where a city council should defer to a specialised government agency with far greater resources and expertise. The One Way works and I can't imagine any alternative layout being as good. I think the DCC is almost evenly divided on this question, as Cr Vandervis would have voted to retain the One Way, and also very likely so would have Cr Hall. For Cr Staynes maybe either way.

So it might have been decided by the Mayor's casting vote in favour of getting rid of the One Way. Definitely part of Mayor Hawkins' vision for a 'greener' central city, IMO an out-of-touch-with-reality one which will probably cost him the election.

"people-focused"? Are drivers not people too?

The two one-ways can barely cope now with the quantity of inter-city traffic, so halving capacity by getting rid of one of them will simply produce chaos. In the short-term, that'll make things more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists, not less; in the long-run, it'll force construction of a (very expensive) SH1 bypass, thus turning Dunedin into a backwater.

Mr Hawkins noted the business case said the alternative programme "provides better outcomes for liveability, place quality, travel choice, connectivity and zero carbon".

How exactly? These are words with no substance. What the hell does "place quality" even mean with regards traffic flows? And how are carbon zero goals better achieved? The number of vehicles won't reduce.

Separating SH1 traffic from pedestrians is the best way to maintain "health and wellbeing', whatever Mr Hawkins thinks that is. Efficient north and south flow means a one way system. Or does he want us all playing chicken with the heavy freight trucks. Yes create people friendly spaces by all means, but don't start imagining north/south traffic is a part of that dream.

OK councilors, you asked for feedback recently about why your popularity and satisfaction rating had tanked with the local voters. Well, here we have a prime example of the people clearly happy with the status quo yet the leadership want to change things. Here is your chance to shine!

The council should not be the ones to decide. It should be up to the people of Dunedin. If they go against the majority they may find themselves voted out next election.

"Popular" one-way traffic system? Popular with whom? Drivers of car in a rush to get from a to b? Or people interacting with our city, walking and visiting shops? You can't use a loaded phrase such as "popular" without providing some evidence that it is actually popular... and how it has been defined and measured.

Popular compared with the alternative. That alternative meaning seriously congested roads, extended commute and transit times, more polution due to those same traffic jams, and an even worse outcome for cyclists and pedestrians (having to share narrower roads with traffic coming from two directions).

The one way system was built in the 1960's to alleviate traffic issues. Now the greens want to ignore history and revert Dunedin to the 1950's. Just sheer idiocy.

The way the main arterial roads north and south have been designed by idiots...

The protrusions and green paint meant to protect cyclists do pretty mush the opposite due to the "distraction" factor for motorists, especially those from out of town who aren't used seeing a main road looking more like a kids playground obstacle course or go-cart track ... go so colourful with little orange lollipop sticks as rewards for finishing the course!!

How many accidents serious and/or minor car accidents, road-rage incidents, twisted ankles, threats of bodily harm and mutilations have been caused by these unnecessary distractions??

And maybe the DCC road planners can name and show examples of any other city in the world with comparable traffic volumes going through an area where most of its emergency services are based, on roads of comparable width, and where cyclist safety seems to be top of the priority list ... and rely on green paint as its main "traffic management system".

Get rid of the cyclists and put them on the same traffic bypass as the logging trucks ... I'm sure with their attitude, the cyclists will have most of the truckies shaking in their boots out of fear!

Looking at the previous records of commonsense levels and bandwagon franchise owners among the Fors and Againsts on Council, it's not hard to work out which plan is less likely to result in ongoing chaos.

There simply isn't enough room to change the current system, this would be a congestion nightmare! I wish we had more practical people on the council instead of academics who clearly only take notice of reports and studies that support their own agenda. Unless its a total bypass without entry or exit points you're going to have turning bays everywhere for both directions at every intersection - that means stopping the flow of traffic through the city for turning traffic. The current system has that turning traffic waiting on the side streets.

This is a desperate attempt to force a culture change through infrastructure changes in the only space council has power/ability. Without a total bypass, congestion will increase and will lead to a rat race of cars trying to avoid lights and said congestion meaning a less safer pedestrian area throughout the whole city. The hard way to fix traffic and our need to drive culture is raising the driving age to 20 or above and making it expensive to own a car. Everyone loves convenience - but only when it's cheap. If it ain't broke don't fix it simply to make a name for yourself. We could just paint dots everywhere.

The Greens are simply the biggest threat to livability in Dunedin. Not everyone lives within a kilometre of their work place.
This idiotic idea to cancel the one way system will simply increase journey times and add countless amounts of polution. All because a bunch think closing roads down will encourage a shift to public transport.
Heavy transport needs to be able to get through the city. What do the Greens think is going to happen? Maybe trucks will unload in the north of the city and transfer all the goods to pedal rickshaws? Yeah, I'm sure that will work.

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