Urgent action on 'ghost' road markings

''Ghost'' road markings confusing drivers in Portobello Rd in Dunedin were due to be blacked out as a matter of urgency last night, over concerns about the possibility of collisions.

How a road split down the middle

The markings near Timaru St appeared to be guiding drivers into an oncoming traffic lane in a new layout that has confused motorists since its completion in May.

Reports of near-misses and general dissatisfaction with the new layout continue to flow to the Otago Daily Times, although Dunedin City Council staff say complaints to them have dropped off.

The ODT spent 50 minutes yesterday observing driving on the south end of the stretch between Andersons Bay Rd and Portsmouth Dr.

Of the 51 vehicles that travelled towards Portsmouth Dr between 8.10am and 9am, nine drove around the ''ghost markings'' and into the beginning of the oncoming lane.

Three of those drivers remained in the oncoming traffic lane for some distance.

One of them travelled about 100m before disappearing out of sight around a corner, still in the wrong lane.

There was also apparent confusion among some motorists leaving and entering a BP service station in the same area.

Eight cyclists were seen using the cycle lanes during the same period.

The markings were painted over when the formerly four-lane road was reconfigured earlier this year to accommodate a new cycle lane.

Following the ODT's observations, the council sent a specialist to the site to investigate.

Transportation general manager Gene Ollerenshaw said it appeared the cover-up job was wearing off, making the ''ghost markings'' more visible in certain lights.

Contractors were asked to paint over the old markings again and repaint new lane layout.

The road would be resealed and marked appropriately as part of a $325,000 job about to begin to make the road's new layout clearer and safer. The resealing was not likely to happen until later in the summer.

But some, including city councillors, still say the whole project should be canned and the road returned to its former state.

A regular user of the stretch, St Kilda resident Nancy Durst, said the sooner it went back to the way it was the better.

She said she encountered a vehicle coming towards her as she travelled home from Waverley two weeks ago. Both cars were able to stop in time because they were travelling slowly.

The road was too narrow and winding and still needed a median strip, she said.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the whole road had ''lacked legibility'' for both motorists and cyclists since the changes were made, and it was good the problem at the Andersons Bay Rd end was being addressed, as it was dangerous.

Mr Ollerenshaw agreed the present layout was not ideal and staff did not shy away from that.

''I wouldn't say we are happy with how it has gone, and that is what we're trying to rectify now.''

Staff stood by the position four lanes were not needed for the volume of traffic and a cycleway was required, he said.

It was, in fact, a vital link in the South Dunedin cycle network, with routes approved by councillors in 2013 and again in a revision this year.

Any other option now would cost more than what was planned at present, he said.

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