Further John Wilson Ocean Dr option

Bill Acklin
Bill Acklin
Just as Dunedin city councillors say it is time to stop stringing the community along and make a decision on John Wilson Ocean Dr, a report from council staff throws another option on the table that could prolong the debate further.

Councillors decided in December, after three years of intense public debate and extensive consultation, that the road would be reopened to vehicles between 11am and 2pm on weekdays.

It would need to be resealed and speed humps installed to keep traffic under the selected 30kmh speed limit, and that work would be done this financial year.

The plan was passed by one vote, many of the opposing councillors concerned about speed-humps ruining the scenic drive experience and/or the $45,000 cost to ratepayers.

Since then, the speed limit bylaw subcommittee has recommended the speed limit on John Wilson Ocean Dr be dropped to 20kmh.

Syd Brown
Syd Brown
In a report to Monday's council meeting, staff say the extra measures required to keep traffic below 20kmh would cost ratepayers up to $150,000.

They have thrown in another option for councillors to consider - which would make those against speed humps happy, but those concerned about speed and costs less so - which was to narrow the carriageway, remove all speed humps and increase the speed limit to 50kmh.

The cost of that option would be $85,000 - $40,000 more than the current plan.

The council closed the road to vehicles indefinitely in 2008, after its closure since 2006 while the Tahuna outfall pipe was being installed.

Much debate on whether it should stay closed, and one short period when it was reopened, have followed since.

The graders are ready to start work on John Wilson Ocean Dr, but a final decision is being awaited from the council on two alternative ideas for the road put forward by submitters at the annual plan hearing earlier this year - which staff are recommending councillors reject - and the 20kmh speed limit recommendation.

The topic was broached briefly at last week's community development committee meeting, before it was put off until Monday's full council meeting.

Before the committee's discussion was cut short, Cr Kate Wilson, frustrated at information from staff that reducing the speed limit would require the installation of more speed humps, suggested the council might instead buy and install a speed camera on the road for police to monitor.

Afterwards, she said her suggestion was half tongue-in-cheek, because she was sick of "overengineering solutions", such as adding speed humps, which always seemed to be the way council staff wanted to deal with roading problems.

Committee chairman Cr Bill Acklin, who last year used his casting vote to get the recommendation vehicular access be reinstated referred to the full council, said he hoped the latest option might be something on which councillors could agree.

"You never know, but I'd like to think it would. It's been far too long, and I think there is an expectation in the community for the council to stick to its decision."

Cr Fliss Butcher, who voted against the road reopening, said she just hoped a final decision could now be made and "they can get on with it".

Cr Syd Brown, who also opposed reopening the road because of the cost, said Monday had to be decision time for the council.

"It needs to make up its mind one way or another. We cannot keep the community on a string any longer. We all know, whether we do it or not, half the community is not going to be pleased. We have to accept that and get on with it. We make decisions; that is our job," Cr Brown said.

"Hopefully, [Monday] will be the end of a long saga."

- debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

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