Port Otago to help pay for road changes

Parks are to be removed from Beach St outside the Port Chalmers Library. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Parks are to be removed from Beach St outside the Port Chalmers Library. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Port Otago has confirmed it is chipping in to help pay for road layout changes that will affect parking in Port Chalmers.

Planned changes include shifting a pedestrian crossing in Beach St amid safety concerns, resulting in eight carparks being lost immediately outside the Port Chalmers Library.

This has raised the ire of some residents.

Port Otago CEO Kevin Winders. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Port Otago CEO Kevin Winders. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Port Otago was making a series of changes to its property and accessways, including extending the Port Chalmers Maritime Museum, and it was contributing to work on the footpath and pedestrian crossing on the museum side of the road and tidying up in front of the expanded museum, port chief executive Kevin Winders said.

"That’s our contribution — it’s for all the works we’re doing on our side", he said.

"The implication is it helps the safety improvement."

Changes to the roading alignment had to be approved by NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi, while the Dunedin City Council also had input.

The existing pedestrian crossing is on the corner of George St, State Highway 88, and Beach St, and the plan is to shift it away from the intersection.

"We instigated the safety improvement", Mr Winders said.

"We’ve been advocating for that pedestrian crossing to be relocated for a long time."

The port wanted to achieve a safer environment for its staff and the public, he said.

"We’ve unashamedly been promoting safety outside our office, museum and for the community", Mr Winders said.

"We’re wanting the right thing for the neighbourhood."

Port Chalmers resident Dr Anna High, a frequent user of the library, called for empirical evidence to be provided of a safety problem at the existing crossing.

Visibility at the crossing was excellent and moving it could create a risk of motorists noticing the crossing late, she said.

The council has said the layout was principally a matter for the transport agency and Port Otago.

Council consultation running this month is strictly about parking time restrictions.

Dr High said the council had been "pretty obtuse" about what was behind proposed changes.

"It is self-evident they’re making things worse for library access", she said.

"The council has not released any empirical data to show this is a necessary or desirable change in terms of library usage or for local businesses."

She wanted to know what studies the council had done about how parking changes would affect usage of the library.

The Otago Daily Times asked the council if it raised any reservations about reduced access to its own facility.

Creation of a dozen parks by Port Otago further along Beach St would offset the reduction in parking outside the library, a council spokesman said.

West Harbour Community Board chairwoman Ange McErlane said the impact of a reduction in parking would go beyond users of the library.

"The outcome is going to be unworkable for the community", she said.

"We just don’t want to lose the focus of the library as a community hub."