Only one way on one-ways

Traffic in Castle St at 3.30pm on Wednesday. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
One-way traffic in Dunedin. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
The Dunedin City Council’s plan to turn George St into a slow one-way street raised serious concerns about retail and central city viability, but there is a bigger threat looming.

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.


 

Comments

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I’m in the north end. When needing to travel south, I now go via Highgate and Kaikorai valley because it’s quicker than negotiating the obstacle course the one-way system has been turned into.
The geography of Dunedin will not change nor the need for mobility so it must be accept our only arteries must facilitate movement.
The hospital site was a lazy decision and the ramifications are already being felt because half of it is reclaimed land requiring considerable additional foundation work.
Cutting the city in two is just another example of the madness infecting the minds of our so called planners.

This is an excellent editorial that should be read and absorbed by all DCC councillors and planners. Sadly, their doctrine based approach to planning means that they will ignore it to the detriment of Dunedin and against the peoples wishes. I do hope these councillors don't want to be re-elected next time round.

If DCC planners had any sense they would be investigating why the one way system was created in the first place. But no, they and the greens councillors, simply want Dunedin to revert to the 19th century with people only shopping at their local store and walking or riding their horses to cover any distance. To be fair they want us all to swap our horses for a bike, but the result is the same, a slow unworkable failure.

There should not be a single cent spend on the George St destruction or changes to the one way system until after the next council election. Now people know the extent of greens ideological stupidity, let the people have a vote on Dunedins future transport options.

I recall that when Harland was CEO at the DCC he mooted for the one way system to be changed to two ways. Now he is head of the southern state highways he has started pushing for it again.
I am glad the ODT has stated how ridiculous this is. Today we have a report of a broken water main. This is what needs attention - the infrastructure of the city.

Removing the one-way system makes no sense at all.
No surprise that those who own Aurora Energy could come up with such a stupid plan.
There are more cars because people want to drive. Remove the council before you remove the roads.

Traffic calming measures just equal inefficiency. If you make car use inefficient, then people might believe there is an issue. The current system is designed so that each set of lights calms traffic, therein being able to control the one-way's flow with the timing of the lights. Prior to this, a lot of low flow intersections (Howe Street, Duke Street, Gordon Street & Jervois Street) on the one-way were changed from give ways to lights (at an eye-watering cost) esp considering that the Union Street and Queens Gardens intersections empty a bloody carpark (there isn't even an arterial road through those 2x). Add to that some cameras and a cycle way, and you've got this non-accountable monolithic mess. Just remember if it bothers you that much, you can always leave.

Gosh, imagine a world where such a radical and crazy idea as a city with a car free pedestrian area existed. Oh wait...https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carfree_city

I am not aware of any professional drivers opinions being asked for, when "planners" .ake their decisions. Ask truckers, courier drivers, taxi drivers and EMS workers what they think of the proposed changes and you'll get a very loud NO to the hare brained proposals being put forward. The one ways, with all their faults, do actually work. If they are so desperate to allow easier pedestrian access to the new hospital, perhaps they need to look at overbridges or tunnels?

Don’t blame the present elected DCC reps for this determination to meddle with the One Way. Since it’s a State Highway, thé responsibility lies with the NZ Land Transport Agency, whose Southern Relationships Manager, Jim Harland, was the first to publicly express the opinion that the fact that the new hospital would be cut off by the One Way constituted an ‘opportunity’ to completely re-configure central Dunedin traffic layout. Somebody should have thought of all this before the hospital site was chosen. But there are always people who benefit from the spending of public money on construction, even when it comes to making a disastrous mess and then having to spend even more to try to fix it. Only if every elected rep on DCC loudly opposed major changes to the One Way and the majority of Dunedinites backed them is there any chance that the central city won’t be wrecked by central government agencies. The editorial, of course, is spot on. Central Dunedin is geographically constrained: end of story.

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