You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Somehow, the foolish proposal emerged last year that Dunedin’s one-way system itself should be abandoned. Somehow, this would also bind the new hospital, some of the university and the central city into a safer, more pedestrian-friendly and thriving area.
This plan needs to be rejected forthwith. It would foul up traffic and movement across as well as into and out of the city.
Rather than enhance the CBD, it would discourage people from venturing in unless they really needed to.
Dunedin’s hills, harbour and railway line create a narrow north-south corridor. This is the way through and the main way into the city.
About 50 years ago, traffic planners came up with the scheme for the dual-lane one-ways to expedite traffic flows.
While it is far from ideal for heavy trucks on State Highway 1 to rumble through the university and past the hospital, other options are worse.
Subsequently, attempts to bolster an eastern bypass on the harbourside of the railway line have been sporadic and have only made a small difference.
The new proposal would see this promoted again and developed further. This should happen regardless. But that route is much less direct. And across the Anzac Ave bridge and through Frederick St to Castle St could be a diabolical choke zone.
As traffic volumes rose in recent years, the one-way system itself is struggling to cope, and not just at peak times.
When one lane of a one-way is blocked, traffic backs up quickly. What a nightmare that would be when the new two-way through route was partially out of action for some reason.
Movement through the one-ways is, for a city Dunedin’s size, massive (30,000 cars a day), and largely not because it is a section of the nation’s state highway.
Northern residents travel to the likes of the Peninsula, South Dunedin shops, the airport, St Clair, Mosgiel and need to move efficiently along the corridor between the CBD and the harbour at all times of the day. Southern residents travel in large numbers to the university, polytechnic, stadium, Port Chalmers and wherever.
Pedestrian safety is often cited as a reason for change. Indeed, if traffic grinds to a halt on the proposed 50kmh two-way Castle St, walkers cannot be injured by brisk-moving cars.
But crossing one-ways has distinct advantages. Vehicles are only coming from one direction, and traffic lights create breaks. Intersections are less complex.
The planners’ alternative proposed last year was to retain the one-ways, with changes. Partial lower speed zones under 50kmh are suggested. They could work as long as they are not too extensive and do not slow off-peak traffic too much.
The zone would be for the one-ways through the new hospital. Undoubtedly, hospital construction will cause major transport headaches. But these would be temporary.
As it is, the “green wave” of traffic signals (which works well outside the heavy traffic of peak times) has been interrupted by the Barnes Dance for pedestrians at the Albany St intersections. And the narrowing of the lanes to make way for cycle lanes constrict the space for traffic and make motorists more likely to drive a little slower.
If Dunedinites, and visitors from around the wider area, are going to come into the city for shopping, concerts and socialising, they will also be put off if they cannot exit effectively.
The one-way system, while far from perfect, has stood the test of time. The two-way alternative and a beefed-up “bypass” will fail Dunedin - including its central city - badly.
If traffic cannot flow between the hills and the harbour, Dunedin will be cutting off its north from its south.
Dunedin will also become an infamous State Highway 1 blockage.