Six-figure proposal for seaside drive

The transformation of Dunedin's John Wilson Ocean Dr into a shared space for walkers, cyclists and motorists is likely to cost less than $1 million, but the results could be "quite magnificent", Dunedin City Council staff say.

They and council consultants have been putting the finishing touches on the draft development plan for the beachside road at St Kilda,which will be considered by city councillors during draft 2011-12 annual plan hearings on January 20-21.

And, although a copy of the draft plan remains under wraps, more light has been thrown on the project.

Council staff have confirmed the work was not likely to cost more than $1 million, and a "six-figure" sum was expected to be presented to councillors for consideration this month.

And, as well as the new marked road and walking/cycling spaces, speed bumps and lighting part-way along the scenic coastal road are expected to be the keys to transforming the area.

The progress comes after the council's hearings committee last year recommended reopening the road to vehicles for restricted hours each day, but only after it was redeveloped and a new shared pathway added for cyclists and walkers.

Council senior traffic engineer Bruce Conaghan said the draft plan now also included the installation of lighting along a new walkway - on the seaward side of the road - as far as the vehicle barrier part-way along the road.

The lights would be downward-facing, similar to those used on the city's Ravensbourne to Maia cycleway, to minimise light pollution, he said.

The aim was to make the area more welcoming for walkers at night, he said.

"You've got this great asset there.

"It shouldn't just be an asset during the day.

"At night time you may get people who decide they want to go for a bit of a walk.

"They've got a pathway - why not light it?

"Seating would also be added to allow a space for people to "contemplate the world while looking at the ocean", he said.

Together with speed bumps and other traffic-calming measures, the results could be "quite magnificent, if it's done properly", he said.

He and council community and recreation services manager Mick Reece also confirmed the cost of the project was expected to be less than $1 million.

However, Mr Reece believed individual options for the development still amounted to a significant spend.

That included the possible use of an automated barrier arm, together with vehicle sensors, to control the flow of motorists on to the restricted area of the road outside vehicle hours, he said.

That was one option being considered as part of the draft plan, although some "look as though they've got dollar signs all over them".

"If anybody expects this to be less than six figures they're mad.

If you're going to do things safely and properly on roads, and particularly things that have got health and safety implications, they need to be the right materials organised in the right way."

The completed draft report would be presented to councillors to consider about one week before this month's draft annual plan meeting began.

Details of the work, and a time line, would be confirmed at the meeting, he said.

Initial improvements - including parking changes and a new vehicle turning bay - had been expected before Christmas, but Mr Conaghan said they would now be carried out after councillors decided on the final shape of the development plan this month.

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